Councillors concerned Heatherwood consultation gives no indication of financesBy Becky Barnes
January 31, 2013
'Look at the bigger picture’ is the message from councillors who say a public consultation on healthcare is flawed.
Bracknell Forest councillors approved the council’s response to the Shaping the Future of Health Care in East Berkshire consultation at its full council meeting on Wednesday, January 23.
Cllr Dale Birch, executive member for adult services, health and housing, said: “As a council we believe the consultation is flawed because it does not state the financial position of the trust.
“It asked people to make decisions without the full picture and we all know the trust itself is in dire financial straits.”
The consultation asks for the public’s opinion on whether the Ascot Birth Centre at Heatherwood Hospital should permanently close and what they think of plans to move the minor injuries unit to the proposed urgent care centre in Bracknell.
It also proposes that rehabilitation ward eight should close with care moved to people in their homes.
But the council, although it supports the moves, says focusing on these services does not look at the long-term options and claims these changes will have ‘significant knock-on consequences’ for both Frimley Park and Royal Berkshire hospitals.
Cllr Ian Leake added the consultation seemed more focused on ‘preserving the viability of the trust than protecting its services’, while deputy mayor Cllr Jan Angell said the focus should be on the people of Bracknell.
She said: “What we want is the best way forward – the future of Heatherwood Hospital has been going backwards and forwards for a long time.
“Residents have been let down by the Healthspace and waited a long time – we need the new centre at Brants Bridge for our residents.”
Cllr Leake commented that the opening hours at the proposed urgent care centre were two hours less than those at Heatherwood’s minor injury unit.
Cllr Birch said he was happy to try and get the urgent care centre opened for longer, but the small reductions had been suggested as few people used the service between 8pm and 10pm.
He said: “This administration is very keen on value for money and with our ‘use it or lose it’ slogan, footfall will naturally require the examination of time because more people will want to use it.
“They will be able to get the communication and the right level of service to benefit the residents of Bracknell Forest.”
After the meeting a spokeswoman for the trust said: “Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Trust has an agreed plan to improve its financial position over the next few years.
“This plan has been accepted by Monitor, the independent regulator of Foundation Trusts.
“In the current financial year (2012/13) the plan is to have a deficit of no greater than £6.9m.
“The trust is confident this financial target will be achieved and its financial standing will continue to improve into the future.”