Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Health watchdog angry at 'secret' care plans

A HEALTH watchdog has appealed after the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group refused to reveal its sustainability plan for
services.

Healthwatch Oxfordshire made a Freedom of Information request for more details of the plan, which covers Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, but this was turned down.

It is concerned that vital information is being kept secret and that too little is being made public on possible changes in the way health and social care will be provided in the future.

Eddie Duller, chairman of Healthwatch Oxfordshire, said: “I am very concerned that the NHS is keeping these plans secret when in fact they should be seen by the general public at the earliest stage possible.

“The commissioning group has been very good at involving the public in discussions on the Oxfordshire local plans for transforming health services and has exceeded NHS guidelines, which encourage open discussions, but they have been ordered to keep the wider plans secret.

“It is therefore difficult to understand why the NHS insisted on this and to my mind it smacks of hypocrisy.”

The commissioning group, which provides services at Townlands Hospital in Henley, will have 20 days to respond to the appeal.

The commissioning group said the request wasn’t in the public interest and claimed releasing certain information would “be likely to inhibit the ability of public authority staff and others involved to express themselves openly, honestly and completely”.

The group has previously come under fire for not being open enough with the public.

Corinne Yates, its head of strategic communications and engagement, was forced to resign as chairman of the Townlands Stakeholders Reference Group after campaigners branded it “tokenistic” and said agendas for its meetings were set by the group itself.

The group originally met in private but later agreed to hold every other meeting in public following protests.

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