Agenda item



The Chair read out a statement in relation to the proposals to move the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) from the Leicester General Hospital (LGH) to either the Leicester Royal Infirmary (LRI) or the Glenfield Hospital.  The Chair thanked everyone for coming out to support the protest against the proposal and said that campaigners had clearly demonstrated the level of interest and strength of feeling.


The Chair provided a background to the situation and made the following points:


·         An announcement was made in the Leicester Mercury on 25 July 2018 regarding the University Hospital of Leicester’s intention to move a number of ICU beds to the LRI or Glenfield and the intention was to do so without any formal consultation. It was understandable that people had interpreted this as an attempt to close the LGH by stealth.


·         While Scrutiny had a good relationship with the local NHS partners; the fact remained that there had been a significant lack of information in the public domain regarding the Sustainable Transformation Plans (STPs) and plans to reconfigure the University Hospitals of Leicester.


·         The Chair did not feel that it was a coincidence that today the STP’s Next Step document had been published. She understood that it had been at the printers for a number if weeks but it appeared that it had been pushed through ahead of this meeting now taking place.


·         The discussion to move the ICU beds was last held in public scrutiny in Leicester in March 2015 when senior NHS officers brought a paper to the Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Commission. At that time the commission heard a compelling case for immediate closure for intensive care beds at the LGH which was based on clinical evidence that the current way of operation over three sites was unsustainable and unsafe.


·         The Chair asked people to note for the sake of clarity, that scrutiny did not approve the decision as it was not scrutiny’s role to approve or grant permission. 


·         At that time, scrutiny was assured that the proposal was not associated with delivering the Better Care Together Programme but was concerned with continuing to provide a service.


·         The Chair stated that the facts surrounding the announcement were as follows:


1.    There was a lack of information regarding the draft STP and Next Steps documents, with delays of over 12 month.

2.    There was an inconsistency in delivering the information.

3.    There were ongoing accusations about the lack of transparency – the Chair added that the public needed to be better informed.

4.    The timeline was constantly slipping.

5.    To date, there had been no assurances that a full consultation would go ahead or what this might look like.


The Chair said that she had met with senior NHS officers and explained how Scrutiny would respond to the concerns expressed because of the announcement. She believed that it was a serious oversight by the NHS in failing to recognise the significance of the announcement and the resulting public opinion. The Chair believed that the debate regarding the issue around consultation should be held in public with all scrutiny members present. She had therefore requested that a full report be brought to the next meeting of the Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland (LLR) Joint Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Commission to be held on 4 September 2018. The item would be taken as Any Other Urgent Business.  The meeting was asked to note that the Joint LLR was the only Scrutiny Committee that could insist on receiving such evidence and information regarding the STP and was therefore the correct body to hear this evidence.


The Chair concluded by saying that the STP was a weighty document and as concrete proposals came forward, the public needed to be informed early enough to make informed decisions. However, in her experience, the public were being told too little too late. The NHS needed to recognise that with the level of change they were embarking on, they needed to engage the public earlier and in a more meaningful way. The Chair gave her assurance that the proposal to move the Level 3 Intensive Care and the proposals in the STP would be robustly scrutinised.


Councillor Chaplin commented that when the issue was previously discussed at scrutiny in March 2015, Members had been told that there was an urgent need to move the ICU from the LGH, but that ICU was still currently operational. The comments made at scrutiny in 2015 might have been different if Members had known that the issue was not urgent after all. The Chair agreed and stated that she had made that point with the NHS directors.