Thumbs down and thumbs up for BPV

At the Brent Health and Wellbeing Board (H&WB) on 22 March BPV’s application for co-option was rejected. No-one spoke up in our favour and the Leader of the Council said that if we joined it would undermine the role of Healthwatch. Currently the H&WB is made up of members of Brent Council, Brent CCG and Healthwatch. These are statutory members and Healthwatch is a body funded by the Council and required by statute. There are no co-opted members on the H&WB but national guidance encourages their inclusion. We applied for co-option as an independent voluntary body with, we think, a record of positive achievement during the first year of our existence. Incidentally the Fire Brigade’s application to join was also rejected some time ago. Maybe the H&WB’s motto should be “Help not required”!

By contrast we received a nice bouquet from Dame Jacqueline Docherty, CE of the London North West Hospital Trust. When responding to our recent letter about possible staff cuts to reduce the Trust’s current £88m deficit she concluded by saying “On behalf of the Trust I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the extremely valuable work that Brent Patient Voice carries out as an advocate for our service users.”

For technical reasons we cannot reproduce the whole of the letter here but the key message was that the Trust was being asked to reduce the deficit to £61.7m for 2016/2017 in order to access £21.5m from the “Sustainablity and Transformation Fund” – or bailout money from HMG if you want to put it more plainly. The assurance on staffing is more guarded but indicates that as a result of the merger with Ealing in 2014 clinical teams became larger and that the Trust is aiming to reduce its reliance on temporary staff.

We received a similarly informative response from Dr Tracey Batten, CE of the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. Their projected deficit for the current year is “only” £30m. You might be tempted to think that this is all finance in Wonderland. The brutal truth is that that the patients keep coming through the doors and the NHS is there to treat them.

Robin Sharp

BPV Interim Chair

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