Analysis of all the public meetings on the future of Glenfield Heart Unit reveals a sham consultation!

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Photo by Lukasz Bemka

The national consultation on the future of Glenfield Children’s Heart Centre came to a close last week. Those able to attend one of the NHS England’s meetings will know what we mean when we say that the consultation was a sham, from start to finish.

But the majority were not even granted this courtesy, as we can reveal.

Throughout the five-month long consultation, there were 33 events held around the country. Not too bad – until you break down the details.

Of the 33 meetings, six were council-led. The public were not always allowed to ask questions at these meetings so these do not fall into the category of public consultation. Two were staff briefings – so also inaccessible to the public.

In total, NHS England carried out three Webinars. But as anyone who tried to use them will tell you, they were impossible to access – even for those with the internet

Of the remaining 22 meetings, nine were held on a week day and during work hours. An additional two were held from 5-7 – so for the majority of those in work they were also completely inaccessible.

So that is 22 out of 33 (two thirds) that the majority of the public could not attend and “consult”! Or, to put it differently, NHS England carried out just eleven meetings as part of a national public consultation!

Many of the meetings were announced with as little as nine-days notice.

To make things even worse, NHS England made very little effort to notify anyone about the meetings – they simply added it onto their web page. But who knew to go there to find out where and when the meetings would be? The majority of the public wouldn’t know that NHS England even had a web site, let alone check every day.

And what about those many who do not have access to the internet?

NHS England have proven beyond all doubt that they were not interested in carrying out a fully public consultation. We cannot let them off the hook.

We will do everything we can to continue to expose the flaws in the process. The consultation may be over but the campaign to save Glenfield is not.

Complaints can be sent to: england.congenitalheart@nhs.net

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Local film-maker documents why we all love and need Glenfield Heart Unit

 

A short documentary exploring what it’s like to live with Congenital Heart Disease, and highlighting the brilliant work at Glenfield Children’s Heart Centre, has just been released.

The documentary comes at a critical stage in the campaign to stop the closure of Glenfield Children’s Heart Centre, with the end of the consultation just weeks away.

Ellie Kemp, the documentary maker, is a former patient at Glenfield Heart Unit. Asked why she made the documentary, Ellie said:

“I wanted to raise awareness – CHD is such a common birth defect, yet it’s so unheard of, and it affects so many lives.”

But NHS England’s controversial proposals to close the heart centre at Glenfield Hospital are also a part of the reason for Ellie making the documentary

Speaking about her personal experiences with the heart unit, Ellie said:

“If Glenfield had been closed when I had my open-heart surgery at 10 years old, then it definitely would’ve put a lot more pressure on my family – it’s scary enough having a child go through major heart surgery, let alone having to travel from Nottingham to Birmingham, or Nottingham to Manchester, when Glenfield is only a half an hour drive.

“Financially, having a child in hospital is extremely difficult, so adding in the extra travel, and potentially accommodation expenses, would be incredibly straining for families. However, this could be a reality for future heart patients if Glenfield was closed – which seems so unnecessary and so unfair, especially since Glenfield has such an amazing Heart Unit, which has helped to save so many lives.”

One of the recurrent themes of the documentary is the close relationships between staff and patients at Glenfield. Dr Mike Harris, a specialist in foetal diagnosis, described the unit as “like a family.”

Unsurprisingly, this is high on Ellie’s priorities.

“It’s also the Glenfield team themselves. Having been seen at Glenfield all my life, I’ve built up a strong relationship and a trust with the staff. Should I have to have any further surgeries at a later date, without Glenfield, I’d have to go to a new hospital, with a team who would be unfamiliar.”

The documentary is also highly critical of NHS England’s claim that Glenfield is not meeting the “standards”. Aidan Boulger, a consultant cardiologist at Glenfield and a stalwart of the campaign, was interviewed:

“NHS England have suggested that one measure of quality is the number of operations that we do. They seem to be confusing quality with the number of operations. The two things are completely different.”

Ellie echoed this sentiment:

“As for Glenfield not performing surgeries to a ‘high enough standard’ again – I was treated there, and I received an incredibly high standard of care, before, during and after my major open-heart surgery. I recovered well, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

The East Midlands only has one heart unit. We must make it clear to NHS England that no-one is going to take it away from us without a fight!

The Save Glenfield campaign is holding a public rally in Leicester City Centre on Saturday, 8 July, from 1pm: https://goo.gl/Z9ojJx And if you are interested in holding a public viewing of the film, please get in touch.

 


Ellie also asked that we post the following message of thanks:

“When researching for my documentary, Save Our Heart Unit Glenfield kindly shared a message on Facebook, asking for anyone who was willing to share their experiences with CHD and Glenfield Hospital. I received an overwhelming amount of responses – phone calls, e-mails, messages, all from people who wanted to share their stories, speaking highly of the care they received at Glenfield. I’d like to say thank you to all of those who shared their stories with me – I believe that this is testament to how many lives Glenfield has changed, and shows just how important Glenfield is.”

 

Save Glenfield: Complain to NHS England over their sham consultation

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As the consultation on the future of Glenfield Children’s Heart Centre draws to a close (ending on July 17), NHS England continue to avoid the public — the very people they are supposed to be consulting!

The Save Glenfield Heart Centre campaign encourages everyone possible to engage with the consultation (help can be found here: https://goo.gl/cGmdJN ).

But for those who have been excluded from the NHS England’s so-called “public” meetings, we hope that you will write letters/emails to NHS England, complaining about the farce that they call a public consultation.

The following is an email which was sent by a member of the Save Glenfield committee. We hope that it inspires you to do the same.

Complaints can be sent to: england.congenitalheart@nhs.net

Dear NHS England

I will be attending the meeting in Leicester on Saturday 1st July. I will be attending with my son who has CHD.

Can I register my extreme anger at the incredibly short notice given for this meeting.

We have been given just one week to advertise and make the public aware of this meeting.

I have felt from the beginning that NHSE are merely paying lip service to this public consultation, for a number of reasons. This feeling has been heavily reinforced by the so called public meetings.

The East Midlands is going to be the region most affected by the closure of the Glenfield, but the public meetings have been minimal, limited to ridiculously small numbers, at times when people cannot attend or arranged at such short notice that it is impossible to let those who would want to attend, know.

Please do not use purdah (the pre-election period in the UK, during which civil servants are not allowed to campaign) as an excuse.

You would have been aware, like everyone else, exactly when purdah ended. You had six weeks to arrange all these meetings which could then have been announced immediately when purdah ended.

At least then we would have had three weeks , rather than just the one week, to publicise the event.

I cannot see that how these can be described as public meetings if you seem to be going to such lengths to exclude the public.

Additionally, I think it is very duplicitous of you to describe the Leicestershire and Rutland Health Overview Scrutiny Committee meeting in Leicester next week as a public meeting.

It is not. It is a council meeting, arranged by the council, where NHSE has been asked to attend. The public can go in and may be allowed to ask questions/make statements, but it is by no means a ‘public’ meeting.

NHS England claim to be consulting on the future of Glenfield ❤ Unit. So why do they keep excluding the public?

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NHS England’s consultation on the future of Glenfield Children’s Heart Centre has been a sham, from beginning to end.

Many of us will remember their farcical “public” meeting held on 9 March, where a room with a capacity of 120 was booked for the whole of Leicester. This was just weeks after more than 2,000 people attended a protest to Save Glenfield in Leicester City centre.

Many were also excluded from the meeting because it was held midweek.

But despite coming under sustained criticism for the way in which they organised this and other meetings, NHS England continue to do the same.

In Sleaford, Lincolnshire, a public meeting was held yesterday (22nd) in the middle of a working day – at 1pm! The public was given just nine days notice for this meeting.

NHS England have also organised a Nottingham-based meeting planned for Thursday 30 June. Again the time of the meeting is 1.30pm – hardly useful for in-work parents. This time the public was given a more generous, but still insufficient, 17 days notice.

And today, it was revealed that NHS England have organised a Leicester Patient and Family event on 1 July. The meeting is on a Saturday, so will certainly be more accessible to the public. But the notice given to the public to come to this is just eight days!

All of this is unacceptable and raises questions as to whether NHS England is interested in carrying out a truly “public” consultation.

If you would like to complain to NHS England about these issues, please contact: england.congenitalheart@nhs.net.

Important diary dates for the campaign to #SaveGlenfield

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Now that the General Election is over, the campaign to save Glenfield Heart Unit is, like the weather, hotting-up. The East Midlands only has one heart unit and no-one is going to take it away from us without a fight.

With the aid of our campaign’s crib-sheet (which can be found online here), thousands of people have already contributed towards NHS England’s confusing online consultation process. It is important that as many people continue to engage with the consultation as possible.

But we also need feet on the ground (again) to make sure that NHS England see the faces of the thousands of people who oppose their attempted theft of our health services.

The following is a list of upcoming events at which we need maximum turn-out. Bring your friends, family and anyone you know who cares one ounce about the future of Glenfield Children’s Heart Centre.

Nottingham – Saturday 24 June, 2pm – the Heart Unit campaign have organised another public meeting in coordination with the Notts Trades Union Council. Come along if you want to find out what the official consultation is all about and how you can help participate in the process to save the heart unit (The Nottingham Mechanics, 3 North Sherwood St, NG14). https://www.facebook.com/events/114292552507394/?acontext=%7B%22ref%22%3A%223%22%2C%22ref_newsfeed_story_type%22%3A%22regular%22%2C%22feed_story_type%22%3A%2217%22%2C%22action_history%22%3A%22null%22%7D

Leicester – Tuesday 27 June, 5pm – officials from NHS England are in town to attend the “Leicestershire and Rutland Health Overview Scrutiny Committee” meeting. Therefore, we have organised a welcoming party to lobby NHS England as they arrive at this meeting (Leicester City Council building, 109-111 Charles Street, LE1 1FA). https://www.facebook.com/events/314927415628054/?context=create&previousaction=create&ref=5&page_id_source=1743079092623390&sid_create=59233081&action_history=%5B%7B%22surface%22%3A%22create_dialog%22%2C%22mechanism%22%3A%22page_create_dialog%22%2C%22extra_data%22%3A%5B%5D%7D%5D&has_source=1

Nottingham – Friday 30 June, 1.30 – 3.30pm. Nottingham Patient, Public, and Staff event. NHS England consultation event. The Wallace Rom, The Education and Conference Centre, Notts University Hospitals, City Hospital campus. To register for this event, email: ft@nuh.nhs.uk

Leicester – Saturday 8 July, 1pm – THIS IS THE BIG ONE. We have organised a mass protest in defence of Glenfield Heart Unit gather on Gallowtree Gate (outside of the old BHS) in Leicester City Centre at 1pm. LET’S MAKE IT REALLY MASSIVE. https://www.facebook.com/events/434176336955829/?acontext=%7B%22ref%22%3A%223%22%2C%22ref_newsfeed_story_type%22%3A%22regular%22%2C%22action_history%22%3A%22null%22%7D

Ask your MP whether they will campaign to Save Glenfield Heart Centre

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Following the recent general election, the campaign to save Glenfield children’s heart centre has put together a template letter which can be sent out to your new MPs to find out whether they and their party will commit to opposing the closure of Glenfield

Should we face another general election (not uncommon after such a close race), knowing which of our MPs and which parties support the campaign will be of great use to the campaign.

Please feel free to use or amend the text as you see fit, and please get back to us with any results.

 

Dear [insert name],

You will know that NHS England proposes to end surgery at the East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre and that it is currently consulting on these proposals.

Our campaign has worked alongside the University Hospitals Leicester Trust, patients and their families, staff, trade unionists and many members of the public and other campaigners. We helped collect the 130,000 signatures on a parliamentary petition calling for a review into the decision.

We have also organised a number of public meetings and protests of up to 2,000 people and are currently encouraging people to participate in the consultation by NHS England.

I appreciate that your time is limited, but we think it will be a quick and easy job for you to reply to the following question:

What will you do to oppose the proposed ending of surgery at the East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre at Glenfield Hospital?

If, after the consultation, NHS England decides to end these operations at Glenfield then local authority health scrutiny committees have the power to refer it to the Secretary of State for Health. This means that there would be ultimate political control over and responsibility for the decision.

Will you campaign for you party to not only oppose its closure, but also to commit to reversing the NHS England proposal?

Thanks in anticipation.

Yours sincerely,

[Your name]

“If it ain’t broke, then why fix it?” – Report on Saturday’s Save Glenfield public meeting

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“If it ain’t broke, then why fix it?” This succinct but penetrating question, posed at last weekend’s Save Glenfield public meeting, summed up the mood of the day.

The meeting, called by the Save Glenfield Campaign, was devoted to helping people understand NHS England’s long and complex consultation documents, which the public have been asked to fill out.

Unfortunately, the planned speaker from the local NHS Trust had to pull out at the last moment because of conflict of interest relating to the surprise snap general election. But Shirley Barnes stood in at short notice, and did an excellent job in explaining to the audience how to complete the consultation (drawing upon guidance sheets already provided by the campaign here: https://saveglenfieldheartcentre.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/a-short-guide-on-how-to-answer-the-online-consultation-on-the-future-of-glenfield-heart-unit/ ).

Steve Score, who chaired the event, summed up afternoon’s proceedings (see video below), noting that completing the paperwork for the consultation process was just one part of a campaign. Building upon the successful protests in Leicester, as well as last month’s massive It’s Our NHS demonstration in London, there will be many future events to build for both in Leicester and elsewhere.

The audience and the speakers were united in their condemnation of NHS England. Hardly surprising given how high the stakes are the stakes are.

As one member of the audience put it, the closure of Glenfield Heart Unit would have wide-reaching consequences: “closing Glenfield Heart Unit would completely destabilize all heart unit provision,” wherever you live in Britain. Closing Glenfield “throws it all up into the air and spoils it all.”

Certainly, the meeting helped to strengthen the resolve of all those in attendance. We are determined that NHS England will not be allowed to close Glenfield Heart Unit.

 


The public meeting to discuss the consultation document is part of a series organised by the Save Glenfield campaign. The next one will be held at 2pm on Saturday May 6 in Loughborough (Rosebery St. Peters Community Centre, Storer Road, LE11 5EQ). FB event page for this meeting can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/132713043936084/

The details for other upcoming meetings are listed below:

20 May – Mansfield Library, NG18 1NH

20 May – Lincoln (Location TBC)

27 May – Nottingham (Location TBC)

Derby – TBA