If you are aware of public consultation by NHS Gloucestershire into becoming a social enterprise, you are in a minority. In December the Board of NHS Gloucestershire (Primary Care Trust being abolished by the Tory/LibDem Government) voted to hand over the management of most of its NHS work to a “social enterprise” (SE) organisation called Gloucestershire Care Services Community Interest Company. Last summer the Coalition gave the PCT the option of merging with another Health Trust (like the Hospitals Trust) or handing over to a social enterprise organisation - and the Board decided on the SE model despite staff concerns. We understand that in virtually all other Primary Care Trusts in the country there has been a ballot of staff - mostly resulting in a rejection of the SE idea. That means most other PCTs are being integrated with the nearest hospital trusts.
Our Gloucestershire PCT did not ballot its staff - who are very unhappy with its proposals. We’re told that there are only about 6 PCTs in the rest of the country going for the SE model - but there are about 6 going for it here in the south west strangely, and it’s not at all clear why our PCT decided to follow this route or why staff weren’t consulted. Stroud Maternity Hospital will not be included in the Social Enterprise organisation - but will become part of the large Hospitals Trust. Most other community care services in the PCT, like podiatry and physiotherapy will be included - and they will be no longer publicly owned. They will have been privatised: the government will have no further responsibility for them.
NHS Gloucestershire did apparently consult the public - and we have found one person invited to a daytime meeting where the social enterprise was discussed as part of the meeting - but anyone who works in the daytime could not take part in the consultation. Shades of the consultation in the Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy where the papers were freely available for view - in the basement, where the lights had gone out, in a locked cabinet in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Tiger'…..
It’s disappointing that in spite of saying on its website that NHS Gloucestershire is committed to involving patients, carers and people who use services in the planning and decision-making process around the services we provide and commission, the PCT has not thought fit to carry out a consultation that was open to all and still doesn’t have easily available on its website the details of which services will be in the new organisation and which will be transferred to other organisations. The organisation has already appointed a Chair and is currently advertising for a Chief Executive - while the vast majority of Gloucestershire residents remain completely unaware of the changes.
If you want to be part of the campaign to save our NHS, why not join Stroud Labour Party?