Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Healthy Futures, Making it Better and the IRP - Update

If you recall from earlier posts (here, here, here, here and here), the North West Strategic Health Authority has been planning to “reform” (or “shake up”) the structure of paediatric, maternity and neonatal services across the whole area through the Making It Better proposal and to the healthcare of all in NE Greater Manchester through the Healthy Futures proposals.

(An aside – what the fuck is it with such “trendy” New Labour speak for consultations to be named as “Healthy Futures”? Why not just “A Review of Healthcare in NE Greater Manchester”?).

Our local council protested the recommendations of the proposals, as it will reduce some local services, particularly A&E. Some other councils in the area were also unhappy. As a result, the proposals were sent to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP), seemingly a non-governmental body of government-paid advisors, that reviews protested health decisions for the Department of Health. The request for IRP review was submitted in Patricia Hewitt´s time (thank you, Patsy, at least you didn´t make a dumb decision this time – but …) and as the submittal date to the DoH was just before her demise and Alan Johnson´s appointment to the Secretary of State for Health post …

The IRP submitted their report on 26 June and was meant to be published (i.e. put in the public domain) on 28 July.

However, the publication of the IRP´s report has been postponed “indefinitely” (quoting a local newspaper report) to give Alan Johnson more time to study its implications.

According to a DoH spokesperson “Given the level of complexity, size and scope contained in the Manchester reconfigurations, the Department of Health would like to understand what plans there are for implementation of any changes and more time to give the matter proper consideration”. (DoH press statement here).

Good on yuh Alan for not making rash decisions – and I am sure you have important things to think about today, 1 August, with the fallout from MTAS and tomorrow or the day after or the day after … with the NHS´s Programme for IT, etc etc.

You have publically committed yourself to send all disputed consultations to the IRP (did Patsy not?). Good on yuh!

However, I am curious as to why the Independent Reconfiguration Panel´s recommendations are not made public before the ministerial decision is made.

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