At the recent online meeting of the county Joint Health Overview Scrutiny Committee (HOSC for short) the ongoing saga of the review of health provision to the OX12 post code (Wantage – more or less) was discussed again, together with the county response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Lib Dem representatives on HOSC are District Cllr Dr. Paul Barrow representing the Vale of White Horse DC and County Councillor Alison Rooke.
The COVID-19 infection is still fresh and ongoing so although there was plenty of discussion it was decided to postpone in-depth scrutiny for a separate HOSC meeting to be convened in the next few months. Oral presentations were made by senior county health administrators and the director of public health. The scrutiny committee were particularly worried about the high mortality rate in care homes in the county compared with comparable counties. Central government had expected care homes to play a full part in the crisis with the expectation that they would take discharged patients whether or not they had been tested for the virus. Some care homes thus refused to accept discharged patients and despite our asking for an explanation as to why they might have refused a rational explanation was not given. We would also now like to see data on mortality rates in homes that did and did not accept discharged patients. We think it likely that the local NHS and county council were concentrating so hard on the hospital cases that they took their eyes off the ball with care homes. However, we want to get to the bottom of the decision making!
Interestingly Healthwatch has just carried out a review of the care home response to the virus which will be published very soon.
The OX12 health provision review is a painful ongoing saga! The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have, we feel, being giving the run around to the OX12 Task and Finish Group which was put together by HOSC. They presented a poor and inadequate interim report which was only accepted by us with 14 conditions.
In addition to Alison and myself, the T&F group has County Clr Jane Hanna (also a LibDem) and independent retired GP Dr. Alan Cohen. At the online meeting we presented a set of recommendations to HOSC that include (i) restarting the OX12 process by Sept 15th, (ii) maternity and physiotherapy services return to Wantage Hospital by the same date, (iii) there is transparency and an evidence base for all proposed decisions and (iv) the topics raised by the original review (including integration of health and social care) be addressed together with (v) the proposed GP and nurse shortage and (vi) any financial constraints be addressed.
We did accept that there had been a delay because of the coronavirus but we expected the hospital to reopen fully on January 1st 2021.
If these were not going to be addressed fully their interim report will be rejected and we will make new proposals to HOSC.
We will continue to put pressure on the Oxfordshire CCG to ensure that a full, proper and transparent review is carried out.
A report from Vale of White Horse District Councillor Paul Barrow on the work Liberal Democrats are doing to improve Healthcare provision and keep healthcare services accountable.