The chiefs of four NHS bodies have all refused to attend a public meeting called to discuss the crisis in the local NHS.
There are major concerns about whether the NHS can meet the growing demands of an ageing population in North Norfolk and Broadland while funding is cut. The Clinical Commissioning Group is currently considering further cuts of £14 million in local services.
This is on top of major concerns about performance by the ambulance service (slowest response times in the county), mental health trust (deemed inadequate by the Care Quality Commission) and the Norfolk & Norwich hospital (several serious incidents in A&E).
The collective refusal by the health chiefs to attend the public meeting planned for Friday 13 March in North Walsham has meant that the organisers, the local Labour Party, have been forced to cancel the meeting.
The Labour Party had invited the chair of the CCG and the chief executives of the ambulance, mental health and hospital trusts to speak and take questions at the meeting.
The chiefs’ excuses for not attending included not being available until the end of April and the meeting being close to the election – even though the election purdah period doesn’t start until 30 March.
With the meeting cancelled as a result, local Labour candidates are urging the public to attend the CCG’s governing body meeting in Aylsham on Tuesday 17 March when the cuts will be discussed.
Denise Burke, Labour Parliamentary candidate for North Norfolk, said: “What have the health chiefs got to hide? The future of the NHS is the public’s main concern and the residents of North Norfolk need answers and reassurances about local services. It’s not acceptable for NHS chiefs to duck out of public debate. They should be accountable to local people.”
Chris Jones, Labour Parliamentary candidate for Broadland, said: “The public are very concerned about the prospect of more NHS cuts locally. I urge everyone to join me in attending the CCG’s governing body meeting on 17 March to have their say about the future of local NHS services. Cutting £14 million from local budgets will have a huge impact at a time when demands for better care are rising.”