A proposed motion at Lichfield District Council on the performance of local health organisations has been branded “disgraceful”.

Cllr Alan White made his comments at a meeting of the local authority last night (15th December).

Alan White

The motion had been put forward by Labour representative Cllr Colin Ball stating:

“This council deplores the very poor performance of the two Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) covering our district, with South East Staffordshire CCG, recorded as ‘Inadequate’ for the past three years, and East Staffordshire CCG performing slightly better, moving from ‘Good’ to ‘Requires Improvement’ over the last year, and resolves to write to our two local MPs, asking them what they personally have done over that period to push for improvements and what else they will do personally in the future.

In addition, this council resolves to write to Staffordshire County Council, to ask what they have done over that period to push for improvements and what else they will do in the future.

“Finally, this Council agrees that the appropriate CCG representatives from both CCGs should be invited to the Community, Health and Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee, to inform members about both CCGs’ performance and asked what plans they have to improve the situation.”

Motion proposed by Cllr Colin Ball

Cllr Alan White – who is also the leader of Staffordshire County Council – said the timing of such a motion was inappropriate.

“During the worst of the pandemic I was standing on my doorstep applauding the work of the NHS.

“But going into the winter of the crisis this Labour group at Lichfield District Council decides at this moment to launch a moment criticising our clinical commissioning groups – I think it’s disgraceful.

“Before this meeting I came off another with the chairs of the CCGs and they look exhausted. Why? Because they’ve not stopped for eight or nine months.

“Cllr Ball says this isn’t criticising the great work of those doctors and nurses, but let’s be clear about what this motion actually says.

“I’m astonished that he would choose to launch this motion – I cannot and will not support this motion in any way shape or form.”

Cllr Alan White

“A lack of empathy”

A proposal was put forward by Labour group leader, Cllr Steve Norman, to amend the wording so that the word ‘deplores’ was replaced with ‘saddened by’.

But a number of Conservative councillors said they were unwilling to support the motion in either form.

Cllr Samuel Tapper said he was not willing to “kick the NHS while it was down”.

“No-one would argue that the NHS is perfect and cannot be improved on at all, and in the wake of this pandemic there will be a lot of questions about how we can make those improvements.

“But the key is that it’s in the wake of the pandemic and not during it.

“This is not the time to start kicking the NHS and demanding better – it speaks of a complete lack of empathy or situational awareness.

“This motion is a politicised motion added in an attempt to create a fight that isn’t constructive.”

Cllr Samuel Tapper

Conservative colleague Cllr Wai-Lee Ho said personal experience meant he could not support any criticism of health services.

“My daughter was born in the middle of this pandemic – there was nothing sad about the care my wife and daughter received from the NHS.

“I will not support a motion that requires me to be saddened by any element of our NHS.”

Cllr Wai-Lee Ho

“Astonished”

Cllr Steve Norman said the motion was not linked to front-line care.

Cllr Steve Norman

“I’m a bit astonished by what’s been said. This motion does not mention care of patients or the staff which Cllr White was jumping up and down about.

“Someone has to tell me why five CCGs were performing badly before COVID – so that can’t be used as an excuse

“If the excuse is the financial situation then something is wrong at Government level. That’s why we wanted to involve the MPs.

“Either this council thinks inadequate is good or fine, or it isn’t. In which case what’s the point of looking at any sort of quality appraisal of any organisation?”

Cllr Steve Norman

The motion was rejected at a vote, with just six members of the council backing it.

Cllr Ball told Lichfield Live after the meeting that the financial position of CCGs should be highlighted.

Colin Ball

“The district council’s representative on the Health Select Committee at the county council, Cllr David Leytham, revealed that the CCGs were having to spend more than the Government gave to provide the services for residents in their care.

“All we asked members to do was to get help from our MPs, who are, in effect, holding the purse strings. 

“The Conservative cabinet members always seem to bend over backwards to protect the lack of action by our MPs and all seemed to excuse our CCGs being rated inadequate or requires improvement – presumably because it reflects badly on the lack of any action from our Members of Parliament.”

Cllr Colin Ball

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8 Comments

  1. It doesn’t sound like they are criticising the NHS at all to me.
    The criticism is centered on Clinical Commissioning Groups – the bodies that fund our front-line NHS services. In that respect I wholeheartedly agree that the CCG’s locally have under-performed badly in recent years.

    I also agree 100% with the Conservative councillors that the NHS has done an outstanding job in the circumstances and particular;y during this year and the pandemic.

    But then the NHS is operating a ,lot of the time with either one or sometimes both hands tied behind its back, largely as a result of the under-performing CCGs. The CCGs remit states: “Commissioning involves deciding what services are needed for diverse local populations, and ensuring that they are provided.”

    So that does seem quite a considerable failure and one which Central Government is ultimately culpable and LDC should be putting more pressure on the relevant bodies and ministers to ensure our NHS services are adequately funded and improved throughout the district.

    Or does that simple fact get in the way of the local Conservative Party’s meaningless point scoring?

  2. I support the motion and echo what The Scribbler has said.
    The trouble with tories these days is, they immediately rush to say all opposition views are disgraceful or unpatriotic or whatever, without any regard for genuine concerns.
    This isn’t knocking the NHS in any way, it’s an attempt at improvement and engaging the local MP’s. Though what that would do with our MP’s record escapes me I have to be honest.
    It’s ‘disappointing’ to say the least.

  3. I’m grateful that our Labour Councillors are pressing for improvement in areas of the NHS that are inadequate or require improvement. Accountability and oversight are surely the responsibility of all Councillors.

  4. I think we are quite entitled to question the performance of the commissioning groups. From my limited experience of them they think they’re doing a lot better than anyone else does, and this is not a criticism of front line services.

  5. Having worked for a company with strong ties to CCGs before the pandemic I have to say their level of performance is haphazard. It is high time that CCGs were improved as they are often hindering progress in the NHS.

    I am very surprised a councillor of Mr White’s experience chose to ignore valid criticism and deflect attention in this way. I thought more of him.

    The two councillors, Mr Wai and Mr Tapper, are I believe quite young and inexperienced. This shows in their comments.

    I am all in favour of new young blood coming into our Conservative party. But they have made themselves look rather foolish here by simply following the lead of Cllr White, who really should know better. There is much our local party can do to encourage improvements in the NHS here, but they have ignored that opportunity.

    I would suggest these young councillors should learn some humility and make sure they fully understand the issues they are discussing. Otherwise they will simply continue to look foolish.

    Our party needs young blood. But we also need quality elected representatives.

  6. I must say that I’m heartened by the positive posts so far on Lichfield Live, supporting my attempts to have the District Council look at ways to hold our local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to account for their poor performance.

    South East Staffordshire CCG has been classed as “Inadequate”, since 2017/18, when there were 18 other CCGs out of 207 across the entire country in that position. Now, there are only nine classed as “Inadequate” nationally. So, what I feel we need to know is how other CCGs do seem to be able to improve their position, but ours can’t. Also, Councillor Leytham told us at the Council meeting that 4 other CCGs in Staffordshire were classed as “Inadequate”, making a total of five Staffordshire CCGs in that position. Now that seems worrying to me, if there are now only 9 across the entire country in the same position out of 191. That doesn’t look good at all for Staffordshire, to say the least – and all on Councillor White’s watch!

  7. I am also a previous Conservative voter. But with our MP’s shameful posturing on social media, a virtually invisible County Council rep in North Lichfield and now this type of ridiculous point scoring that serves no-one well, I am wishing I had chosen more wisely. There are still excellent Conservative councillors hard at work, but the three quoted in this story represent all that is wrong with the party locally and nationally – avoiding the issue, deflecting criticism and behaving like a bunch of overgrown school children. We deserve far better than the low quality we are currently being served up by the likes of these three Conservative councillors, our MP and others.

  8. At a time when the pandemic has loaded more demand onto already stretched mental health services, I think it is high time we questioned what the CCGs are doing. They are letting down both patients and front line staff. For the leader of a council to condemn such scrutiny shows how out of touch Conservatives are with the desperate needs of many people. Mental health services have been starved of resources for a long time, and it would be far more constructive for local and regional leaders to push for significant improvements instead of trying to score points off each other.

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