Hospitals ‘not seeing positive hospital changes’ councillor claims

Is hospitals working more closely together improving services?
Is hospitals working more closely together improving services?

NHS bureaucracy is “going mad”, a meeting heard this morning.

The comments came from a senior West Yorkshire councillor, who also claimed communities were “under fire” from changes to the way hospitals were run.

Members of a joint committee on NHS standards in West Yorkshire met to discuss a report into how hospitals in the region are working together.

A representative of the the West Yorkshire Association of Acute Trusts (WYAAT), which produced the report, said the programme is helping to deliver benefits and links between hospitals that did not previously exist.

But some councillors claimed it did not go into enough detail about positive changes hospitals were making, and how long it would take for patients to see improvements in services.

Wakefield councillor Betty Rhodes said: “I have spent so many years listening to structural reviews and reorganisations.

“Over the last few years bureaucracy has gone mad – there are more layers than there are in onions, and we are all crying because we are not seeing improvement on the ground for the people we represent.

“I find the report excellent in terms of collaboration, which should have been happening anyway – I don’t think it takes another organisation to tell people they should be working together.

“Why aren’t we actually seeing those improvements coming out of the trusts in the localities that we represent?

“They are under fire. There has been review after review after review, and I have not seen anywhere on here where a time-scale has been put on that.

“This is public money, we are not private consultants, and the public has a right to know what is happening that is going to improve their families’ and their health services in the future. They need to know this is going on.”

Matt Graham, WYAAT’s programme director responded: “What we are not doing is imposing things on the workforce. Where there are changes that need to be made, we are trying to make them with the workforce.

“The workforce is intimately involved in those programmes and they are the ones who are driving them forward.

“On the time-scales, they are quite varied. Some are relatively short, and we are delivering pieces of work all the time.

“The time-scales are very varied. In some cases, we can’t tell you the full time-scales, because we don’t yet know what the risks are.”

WYAAT was set up in 2016 and represents a partnership of trusts in West Yorkshire and Harrogate, including Airedale, Bradford Teaching, Calderdale and Huddersfield, Harrogate and District, Mid Yorkshire and Leeds Teaching trusts.

According to the report, some of the work taking place includes creating “centres of excellence” for certain types of care, and sharing best practice among the trusts.

Mr Graham added money had been saved from taking some NHS services back “in-house” having previously been outsourced to private companies.

He said: “The money we have saved in terms of procurement is being reinvested into services.

“We need to share imagery between all hospitals in Yorkshire – a clinician in Bradford would be able to see all X Rays and MRIs done in Leeds and in other places.

“Those benefits are going live now.”

Mr Graham insisted many people had put a lot of time and expertise into making the scheme work.

He said: “A lot of time it feels with these sorts of things like there is a lot of talk. But trusts have put money and time into this, clinicians, managers and senior executives have put work into this, and there is a good level of collaboration.

“The NHS is a people business – we have a huge number of staff. We need to enable them to work better between organisations – that is what WYAAT enables us to do.”

Mr Graham added that WYAAT attracted an extra £21m into services over the last year, which included improved radiology services.