There have been some more public meetings but the process is facing fairly predictable delays. There is a meeting in Watford on 29th January.
Here’s what’s been happening, with some explanation:
The previous SOC (Strategic Outline Case), submitted in 2017 was challenged by NHS Improvement** (NHSi)
The NHS has many moving parts, NHSi is a task force designed to focus on strategic change, leaving others to focus on operational matters with the existing set-up.
After a quiet period when local people were in the dark waiting for the NHS to follow its process a series of public meetings were planned and held by HVCCG (Herts. Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group) and WHHT (West Herts. Hospital Trust) in October/November 2018. There is a report of one of these meetings here.
So there is to be a new SOC in the works. The idea now is that it might be an idea to separate the planned care from the acute. Frankly, we’re a bit sceptical as the local commissioners regularly say that staffing issues are easier for them to cope with if major in-patient care is kept together.
Is it all about the money ?
The other thing is that there is less money available. In 2017 it was £640 million, now it’s half that. Here’s the reasoning:
The WHHT doesn’t get given the money for the building plan and delivery, they have to bid to be allowed by NHS England, to borrow it. They are saying they can borrow about £300 million because that is approximately equal to their (WHHT) annual spend. Makes you wonder why they didn’t know this in 2017.
(The bigger picture is that Health is getting an extra £20.5 BILLION in the next ten years, BUT our population is getting older, so a lot of people say that the extra money is just keeping up with demand.)
Travel analysis for the updated SOC options was due in December 2018 but this has not happened (to be fair December is a busy time for the NHS, sorting out flu jabs and ways to prepare for the high winter demand on Hospital beds.)
Delays & meetings
There was/is supposed to be a public panel, due to meet in January 2019, but this seems to be delayed too, probably related to the travel plan delay.
A public meeting has been announced for 29th January, in Watford. We will be attending and will report on it here – hall numbers are limited but if you’re keen some space might still be available. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book onto this event. Please state when booking if you have any particular accessibility needs.
What next ?
What next? Well, following this process a decision will be made and that decision will go to consultation if major changes are decided upon.