An open letter to Chief Executive and Director of WDC – Karen Satterford, 18th February 2015
Dear Karen Satterford,
I have been campaigning for several years to reinstate Wycombe Hospital to a much needed fully functioning hospital with services including A&E, a full maternity unit with SCBU, and overnight children’s services.
This open letter is a request that in the coming May 7th elections, we use the already set up polling stations to have a referendum on Health services. Vote counters and ballot boxes will already be in place so it would come at very little cost and give the local population a chance to show what they really want for our hospital on Queen Alexandra Road.
Several times in my journey as a campaigner I have heard that the public were ‘fully consulted.’ However when you speak to people, they do not feel listened to and for this to be the case. With only one option given at the ‘Better Healthcare in Bucks’ ‘consultation’, decisions have been made about hospital services by unelected bodies such as the PCT and CCG.
A referendum on health would give the service using public a chance to show their views on the changes that have occurred to our hospital and put to bed the myth that the public have been consulted. It would also complement well the recent work that the Improvement and Review Commission at Wycombe District Council have done, where they wanted to hear views from the public.
We would be willing to work with you and other campaigners in forming the question and feel it’s time a referendum was facilitated.
We look forward to hearing from you soon,
Miss Ozma Hafiz
Dear Miss Hafiz,
Thank you for your open letter to me dated 18 February 2015.
The Council, at its meeting on 26 February, will be considering the recommendations of the review into urgent care which has been conducted by the Improvement and Review Commission. I know that you have been active in helping the Commission with that review, including attending and presenting to the Commission at its meeting on 11 December 2014, when you were able to raise the issue of the need for a fully functioning hospital in High Wycombe. I am also aware you have spoken to Charles Meakings last week and you have submitted a question on the review to the Council meeting on 26 February.
With regard to your proposal, the holding of any referendum is a major undertaking, which requires many preparatory steps to be in place before identifying a suitable date for it to be conducted. Some of the issues include the need to:
– discuss and agree with the various statutory bodies involved the benefits and costs of the referendum, including whether the outcome would be voluntary or binding in any way;
– the literature that would need to be produced to inform voters of the arguments for and against the proposition in the referendum;
– an agreement on who would pay for the costs of the referendum which, even if combined with another election, would still be significant.
At this time these various elements are not in place and I am therefore not in a position to agree to the holding of a referendum in conjunction with the general, district and parish elections on 7 May.
It is important to note that the District Council would not be in a positon to devote resources to facilitate such an exercise, as we do not have any statutory responsibility for the health service.
I hope this clarifies the Council’s position.
Chief Executive, Wycombe District Council
Dear Ms Satterford,
Thank you for your response which was very disappointing. I will forward it on to the others. I hope you can help with providing clarity and additional information around the following points:
Please can you clarify what other statutory bodies need to be involved together with contact details and where I can find out whether the outcome would be binding – I assume there is some government publication about this issue which you can refer me to or an expert at the Council who can advise me.
As you mentioned Wycombe DC do not have statutory responsibility for health, please can you confirm whether I have asked the wrong person to consider holding this referendum. If so, please send me details of who does have statutory responsibility for the health service and contact details of the Officer I need to ask to consider this.
Please confirm who needs to produce the literature and in what format.
Please confirm the timescales you envisage would be needed for the preparatory steps.
Please also confirm how much you think this may cost.
I would appreciate a prompt reply to enable me to look into this further for this very important cause.
Thank you for your email.
I am not aware of any publication that sets out the referendum requirements, as there is no statutory right for the public to call for one to be held, and therefore no requirement for one to be available. It is therefore not possible to cost or identify timescales until a detailed proposal is developed.
I can only suggest you contact the Clinical Commissioning Group, as the statutory commissioning body, and/or your Member of Parliament if you wish to pursue this further.
Chief Executive, Wycombe District Council
Email to MP
Please find the full email exchange below.
I was thinking it would be good to have some sort of Healthwatch linked data collecting exercise at the same time as the election – thereby using the already set up polling stations and postal votes, providing ease of access and reducing costs. We could also have Healthwatch Bucks volunteers at the polling stations to help people and gather pt. experiences.
I look forward to hearing from you soon,
Thanks for your email.
You make a suggestion which would seem a good one to economise resources and maximise participation but I feel sure it would not be allowed under election law, which is probably why Karen Satterford’s reply was on a different wavelength to your summary below. Elections and other formal polls must be conducted strictly in accordance with law.
I suggest the best people to speak with are HealthWatch. I will have the matter of the election itself to contend with and they have national scope.
Steve Baker MP