Rugby politicians unite over health plans

The health plans are about more than just hospital care. NNL-170902-161622001
The health plans are about more than just hospital care. NNL-170902-161622001

There’s tension aplenty at Rugby Borough Council at the moment but there was a rare outbreak of unity this week over controversial health plans.

Across the country 44 footprints have been drawn up to come up with Sustainability and Transformation Plans for health and care services.

While bosses stress these plans are not just about cuts, the headlines have been dominated by likely cuts and the way the planning has been done in secrecy.

In Coventry and Warwickshire the STP is chaired by chief executive of the UHCW Trust Andy Hardy.

The picture has yet to become clear and frustration over the situation was to the fore at Rugby Borough Council’s cabinet and full council meetings this week.

The report from cabinet, put forward to full council by Cllr Leigh Hunt was clear: “Rugby Borough Council is unable to give its support to or endorse the Coventry and Warwickshire STP at the present time since there has been no public consultation and there appears to have been no account taken of the impact on the services of other agencies, such as the borough council, or indeed of the part the council has to play in promoting health and wellbeing and preventing the escalation of issues in order to avoid pressure on primary care and other health services.”

There was support from all quarters for that position and the further points that the cabinet made, for the borough council to align itself with concerns from the county council; that the borough council wanted to be part of the future of the STP and that a working party should be set up to oversee what’s happening and its impact on Rugby.

Council leader Cllr Michael Stokes said: “This is a very rare occasion when we are all agreed at council.”

Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council resolved not to support or endorse the local STP last month.

Though it has had access to the discussions, the county council also said in December it would not sign up to the plan until there is consultation with the public, that an independent chair is appointed and that the role of social care is properly recognised.

Cllr Jerry Roodhouse echoed the calls for an independent STP chair: “The bit that really worries me is who is chairing the STP process. It’s the chief executive of that PFI hospital up the road.

“Until we have somebody independent I have a sneaking suspicion it willbe an NHS driven exercise and that won’t do our residents any good in Rugby.”

Cllr Hunt reiterated the good work the borough council does to help people’s wellbeing and thus stop people needing the health services - and said the current situation ‘beggars belief’.