Norman Lamb MP has hit out at plans to cut the number of local patient beds without any consultation, after North Norfolk CCG served notice on the beds it commissions at Benjamin Court in Cromer and Cranmer House in Fakenham.
Mr Lamb believes that the CCG may be in breach of its legal obligations and has asked to meet with CCG leaders urgently.
In November, the Norfolk Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (NHOSC) was notified that the closure of beds at Cranmer House, to be replaced with a new ‘supported care’ model, was no longer being considered after strong local opposition. However, the CCG this week announced that beds in Cranmer House and Benjamin Court would be decommissioned without any consultation with the local authority.
Under the Local Authority (Public Health, Health and Wellbeing Boards and Health Scrutiny) Regulations 2013, CCGs have a duty to consult the local authority about any proposal they have ‘under consideration’ for a substantial development of or variation in the provision of health services. As part of the consultation process, the CCG is required to notify the local authority of the date by which a final decision will be taken as to whether to proceed with the proposal.
Commenting, Norman Lamb said:
“It seems extraordinary to serve notice that these beds will be de-commissioned without any prior consultation. I strongly suspect that the CCG is in breach of its statutory duty to consult on the plans before they were finalised, given that it amounts to a significant change in the provision of local healthcare services.
“The apparent view that there is no requirement to consult because the closures apply to the beds, rather than the units themselves, is hard to justify, especially when the loss of beds could reduce support for frail elderly people for whom care in the home is not appropriate. The CCG itself states that it is introducing a new model of care. This is the sort of change that should involve consultation with the local community.
“The Overview and Scrutiny Committee should have had the opportunity to consider and feedback on these plans before any final decision was taken. Instead, the bed closures are being pushed through without any local scrutiny.
“After the original plans to close beds at Cranmer House seemed to have been shelved just three months ago, this u-turn by the CCG doesn’t inspire confidence.
“I am asking for an urgent meeting with the CCG to explore alternatives to these closures. As well as a reduction in beds, it seems inevitable that jobs will be lost and I am happy to meet with staff who will be affected by these plans.”