THE leaders of eight councils have united to condemn the bosses of the country’s most cash-strapped NHS trust, ahead of an unprecedented wave of cuts.
The Local Government North Yorkshire and York (LGNYY) committee said they were dismayed that no member of NHS North Yorkshire and York’s senior management team had been available on Friday to discuss how in excess of £75m of savings would be made to balance the county’s heath budget.
Speculation is mounting as to where the axe will fall when accountants KPMG unveil a list of potential savings in January, with health watchdogs warning of cuts to frontline care and hospital services being moved into regional specialist centres.
The trust announced £10m of cuts in September, which have been linked to a reduction in outpatient appointments, but its bosses have been unable to attend a number of key meetings with councillors.
The LGNYY district, city and county council leaders said they had wanted to give their views to the trust ahead of accountants KPMG unveiling a list of potential savings in January, in the hope they could influence the choices that need to be made.
The trust’s chief executive, Chris Long, and its chairman Kevin McCleese had said they would be available for LGNYY’s meeting in March, but the council leaders said they would write to the pair asking them not to attend as it would be too late.
Chairman of the county’s health scrutiny, Jim Clark, said he would propose a notice of motion at the county council’s December meeting in an attempt to ringfence urgent and unplanned consultant-led services, including maternity and accident and emergency units.
His deputy, Councillor John Blackie, said the trust had also failed to discuss the issue with the GP-led clinical commissioning groups which are set to take over the management of NHS budgets from the trust next year.
He said: “We are dealing with a demob-happy organisation that has totally disengaged with its local authority partners, does not apparently care about its public reputation, and is pursuing a scorched earth policy to achieve eye-watering savings by dismantling the NHS service as we know it.”
It is understood some MPs are becoming increasingly exasperated over the trust’s communications as it looks to transform NHS services in the county, which many people believe has been historically under-funded by the Department of Health.
While Richmondshire MP William Hague has asked Whitehall officials to investigate why the black hole has developed, while other MPs have met or are due to meet health ministers to raise their concerns.
NHS North Yorkshire and York was unavailable for comment.