Major healthcare reforms that would see Glossopdale come under Derbyshire county control have come under fire from health bosses.
Derby and Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group, acting on behalf of a partner, contacted their counterparts in Tameside and Glossop last month for their views on the proposed reforms.
The letter from Derbyshire CCG acknowledged such a move could have massive implications to health care in Glossopdale and the very short timescale before the matter goes to the Secretary of State.
It states: “Key aspects which boundary realignment could impact upon include the integration of services, the flow of patients in and out of hospitals, opportunities for greater collaboration between health and care, a whole population approach to health and care and the importance of ‘Place’ and local communities.
“Other important considerations include the preventative health and wellbeing agendas and the wider social and economic determinants of health.”
Given just two weeks to respond, the Tameside and Glossop CCG held an extraordinary meeting where they called for more time to evaluate the proposal and for engagement with the local community.
Speaking at the meeting, Steven Pleasant, Accountable Officer for Tameside and Glossop CCG, said: “It does seem to us if you are going to make a decision of such significance, there should be a much more considered process of engagement and consultation.”
Jessica Williams, Director of Commissioning, said there were numerous issues that would need to be discussed and considered, not least the impact such a move would have on the residents of Glossop.
She said extensive engagement to understand concerns of people who would be affected would be needed, not just in Glossop but Tameside and Derbyshire and the High Peak.
“My recommendation would be the governing body request further time to discuss all of these aspects to really understand what this means; to engage effectively with the local community and to have a clearer view on how a decision is made and then how we mitigate either way.”
The move has been sparked by a government white paper, which will see CCGs abolished and from April 2022 replaced by Integrated Care Systems (ICSs).
The preference is for ICSs to follow authority boundaries; however, plans are already well advanced across Greater Manchester of which Glossop is included.
But Derbyshire County Council is very keen for the change to be made and is pushing for Glossop to be part of the Derbyshire ICS.
Councillor Carol Hart, DCC’s Cabinet Member for Health and Communities, said the council provides social care across the whole of the county, including Glossop.
If Glossop were to remain in a non-Derbyshire ICS, it would mean the council operating its care services across two different systems with all of the duplication, inefficiency and potential confusion for residents that come with working in multiple complex arrangements.
Cllr Hart said: “We believe that the separation of Glossop from the rest of Derbyshire will severely hinder our ability to build an integrated, whole population approach to health and social care that recognises the rural nature of parts of Glossop and the High Peak and the challenges that brings in contrast to an urban area.
“We also believe that it will prevent effective strategic planning for care provision and preventative health measures.”
She said separating Glossop into a non-Derbyshire ICS would mean residents would not have the same representation within the ICS as other Derbyshire residents.
Under current proposals, county councillors for Glossop would not have a voice in their ICS, potentially weakening democratic accountability and responsibility for those residents.
“We are working positively and collaboratively with our partners in the NHS on this important issue and continue to have open and constructive conversations with the interests of Derbyshire people firmly at heart,” added Cllr Hart.
However, the proposed change has already come under fire and is strongly opposed by many.
Becki Woods, county councillor for Etherow, said people did not want the change and criticised the way the move had been handled with little chance for anyone to respond to the proposals.
“Basically, they are trying to sneak this in through the back door. They are trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes.”
She said it could have massive impact on residents across Glossopdale as over the last 30 years, relationships between health services had been forged across Tameside and Glossop area.
“I gather people from other parts of the High Peak are already being asked to attend treatment in Chesterfield. That just isn’t feasible in Glossopdale, we don’t have sufficient public transport to the rest of the High Peak, never mind the rest of Derbyshire.
“It would make treatment prohibitive, and could lead to an increase in ill health, and needless deaths in the area. Essentially only those with their own transport, or those who could afford the £65 each way in a taxi to Chesterfield would be able to access treatment,” added Cllr Woods.
Glossopdale Patient Neighbourhood Group feel they have been provided with little information and very short timescales in which to respond.
In their letter of response, they said: “Glossopdale residents rightly expect to be treated better, much better, than the attitudes, and values illustrated towards them thus far.
“Equally worrying is that the final decision rests with the Minister for Health whose knowledge about us will be limited and will also be skewed by his own agenda. This hands-off approach; keep the public and third sector as far away as possible, does not bode well for the future and contradicts much of the government rhetoric on patient and public involvement.”
The potential loss of relationships that have been built that help influence change and development is also highlighted as a concern.
“We have built many effective lines of communication and structure which brings parties together.
“It would take us years to achieve anywhere near this level of integration if we had to start again and therefore seems completely unethical and unfair to ask or expect us to lose so much simply to make things questionably easier for Derbyshire County Council.
“The health services, apart from General Practice, provided by Derbyshire would be too far away for us to access with ease. Public transport would prove to be an even bigger issue than it is now."