Monday, 20 September 2021

Campaigners complain at lack of information

CAMPAIGNERS say they will give health chiefs “one last go” to engage with the

CAMPAIGNERS say they will give health chiefs “one last go” to engage with the community over the new Townlands Hospital.

The Townlands Steering Group again accused the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group of failing communicate with the public over services at the new £16 million “health campus”.

At a meeting on Monday, members decided to take up an offer to meet with Dr Joe McManners, chairman of the commissioning group’s governing body, but warned they could still pass a vote of no confidence if nothing changed.

The steering group is represented on the new Townlands Stakeholders Reference Group, which was set up to monitor services at the hospital but meets in private and members have branded secretive and “tokenistic”.

Councillor Ian Reissmann, who chairs the steering group, said: “There’s very serious concern about the lack and lateness of information being provided to the community.

“We believe there is widespread feeling that the commissioning group is not doing its job. We have a small toehold in the stakeholders group but very little of what we say is being listened to.”

Mayor Lorraine Hillier, who has attended two meetings of the stakeholders group, said: “They are making the situation worse by keeping the press and public out of the meetings. We have asked for a press presence but they don’t want it because they say the press is issuing negative comments when it’s actually just reflecting public opinion.”

Dick Fletcher, who represents the Hart Surgery on the stakeholders group, said: “It seems to me that the group was set up to show that the commissioning group is engaging with the community. Where the battle takes place is at the calling of the commissioning group.

“As a member I’m charged with reporting back to the community and I did that in a single page document to the surgery’s patient participation group. I forwarded that to the commissioning group and the stakeholders group. I was asked not to send a copy to the Henley Standard.”

Steering group member Dave Smewing said: “If they can’t give us the information then we will go to a lawyer. Be nice to them but have a sword behind us — we need to be forceful.”

Former Henley GP Peter Ashby said: “The commissioning group has failed us on so many fronts that it has become impossible to talk to them. We still haven’t got any firm details on when the hospital will open, which is a shambles. This group is quite impotent unless we say at some point that enough is enough.”

David Smith, chief executive of the commissioning group, said the stakeholder reference group was set up to engage with the local community and its members included representatives of patient groups, volunteers and carers.

He added: “They all  participate in what we believe are constructive and meaningful conversations between health and the community representatives.”

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