- Protect local NHS services and consult patients properly before making changes
- Spend money wisely and don’t do deals with irresponsible private companies
- Adopt policies and a constitution which reflect these values”
Importantly, on Wednesday 30th January we delivered the petition to South Norfolk and afterwards met with the Chief Executive, Ann Donkin and a GP representative, Dr Jonathan Bryson. To me, and I think most of us (about 20 people), the meeting was positive with amicable overtones:
- I pointed out a radio report about a contractor for pothole repairs to a local authority who sub-contracted the work to someone else with the consequence of unnecessary public expense and suggested this was very likely to happen in the NHS. Ann Donkin replied that they could easily put a ‘no sub-contracting’ clause in their contracts. We said we hoped they would do this. Something to watch for.
- We talked about the contingency of only commissioning ‘any willing providers’ who are not-for-profit organisations such as Community Interest Companies (for example, Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust is a CIC). Dr Bryson came out strongly against this and spoke firmly in favour of commissioning private companies. He said “Anyway, there are ways around making a profit in CICs.” Ann Donkin pointed out that Foundation Trusts are profit making organisations a fact which militates against a policy in favour of not-for-profit organisations.
- We talked about there being more complexity in the mix than is generally understood and one of those factors is integration with adult social care. I pointed out that I had, via NCODP (Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People), been recently involved in interdisciplinary workshops looking at co-producing pathways for integration. Ann said the CCG is currently involved.
- As the last question, I asked what, if anything, the CCG is planning in relation to mental health training for their GPs. Dr Bryson seemed affronted by this, saying: “We have no plans, our GPs provide a perfectly good service for our mental health patients and we pride ourselves in our quality of referral.” I pointed out there is an accepted statistic which says 90% of mental health problems are treated in primary care and there are many concerns about GPs in general, with such a brief period of training in mental health, needing additional training with the advent of CCGs. Dr Bryson said: “Tell me what’s underneath this?” I said I would be in touch further when we had their contact details (Sharing of contact details had been agreed).
- As we were leaving I was chatting to Dr Bryson and I asked him if he knew, off the top of his head, how many Section 12 doctors (doctors, usually GPs, with special training and approval under Section 12 of the Mental Health Act 1983) there are in South Norfolk. To my astonishment, he said he didn’t know of any and “They aren’t necessary anyway.” This needs following up and I’ll do so when I have the contact details.