Monday, 20 September 2021

We’ll challenge failed publlic consultation

THE Townlands Steering Group says it will challenge the “flawed” public consultation on the plans to

THE Townlands Steering Group says it will challenge the “flawed” public consultation on the plans to scrap the hospital beds.

It will write to Oxfordshire County Council’s health overview and scrutiny committee, which is to examine the consultation process organised by the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

The steering group claims the consultation lacked significant detail and evidence for the proposed ambulatory care model.

Councillor Ian Reissmann, who chairs the steering group’s sub-committee, said: “We’ve come to a number of conclusions about what we should do next.

“We are going to focus on challenging the consultation, both on the procedural process and because it completely failed to convince anyone that what they are doing is the right way to go.

“We are more of less certain that the commissioning group will not change their minds and press on regardless.

“We think the process of talking to them has failed to get things changed and it’s been down to campaigning outside the group.

“It is obvious that the commissioning group’s proposals are strongly opposed by a large majority of the community and the steering group expects the consultation will show this clearly.”

The consultation closed at midnight on Monday, with the results due to be presented to the commissioning group board at a meeting on July 30.

Cllr Reissmann said the steering group believed the consultation had “failed” because of a lack of information and evidence on the proposals as well as problems with the questionnaire, which some claimed was biased.

He said: “They haven’t provided the information that they said they would and that they were committed to producing.

“We asked for the figures but that didn’t happen and as a result the consultation has failed.

“The steering group is very disappointed that the commissioning group has failed to provide supporting documentation for its proposals which would allow the community to provide a fully informed response to the consultation. The lack of support from the GPs for the proposals underlines this failure.

“We will continue to engage with the commissioning group on a new plan based on the new model of ambulatory care, as it is clear than this is supported in principle by many GPs and other clinicians and has operated successfully in other parts of this country and around the world.”

The steering group will now ask the scrutiny committee for the original plans to be restored. It wants 18 beds to be installed at the hospital, which could be reduced once a new model has been put forward by the commissioning group.

The commissioning group has said there are no plans to extend or re-open the consultation.

It also said the steering group was involved with preparing the process and was offered the opportunity to provide feedback on the questionnaire.

A spokeswoman said: “We firmly believe that the consultation has been open and transparent. The questionnaire was developed by public involvement specialists, using a tried and tested format which has been used by the commissioning group successfully in other consultations.

“We are open to feedback and have actively encouraged people to share their views, not just through the questionnaire and free text boxes but throughout the consultation at public meetings and drop-in sessions publicised through the website and local media. We have also invited feedback by email, letter and telephone.

“Councillor Reissmann was party to and participated in all the discussions about the content of the consultation process and received draft copies of both the consultation plan and questionnaire.”

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