Christine from IOW Save Our NHS Group shares this latest report. Ed
The Isle of Wight Council are looking at further ways to save money by, in our view, once again targeting the weak, the sick and the vulnerable on the Island as they propose to withdraw allocated funding of £60,000 a year to fund cross Solent travel costs incurred by patients who must go to the mainland for chemotherapy, radiotherapy and dialysis.
Cllr Clare Mosdell, Cabinet member for adult social care and public health, says,
“No other council in the country provides non-means tested funding to transport NHS patients and so in the light of the savings this council needs to make we must look at whether we can continue to fund it. We have no legal duty to fund it and in challenging times, we feel we should look at protecting the frontline services we are legally obliged to fund such as adult social care or mental health services.”
Mosdell: “Important we listen to the views of Islanders”
The Council decided to hold a public consultation because (Cllr Mosdell) “…it’s really important to us that we listen to the views of Islanders to inform any decisions about the future funding of this scheme.”…. However, little effort has been made to publicise the consultation, much of the Island population will not have seen it.
Their survey can be found on the Isle of Wight council Website for those who use the Internet and hard copies are available for those who don’t.
Online or on paper
Healthwatch have been charged with organising the consultation and distributing the paper copies, but we understand that only 200 copies were originally made available although this has now been increased to 1,200 for an Island with a population of over 140,000.
Paper copies were intended to be available directly from Healthwatch as well as in libraries, GP practices, hospital, Citizens Advice, People Matter IW, and the Riverside Centre, Newport.
Copies not visible
In order to ensure that as many paper copies as possible were circulated to the public, members of IOW Save Our NHS took it on themselves to visit GP surgeries and Libraries and in some instances found that none were available.
In one library they were actually out of sight completely because they’d been put in a drawer.
Extension to deadline request denied
There are concerns that the period of consultation is too short, but a request by Age UK for the deadline to be extended received the response from Healthwatch (who originally asked for a consultation time of at least 10 weeks), saying that this would not be possible because the report on the survey results had to be submitted in time for it to go to the Council Budget Committee meeting at the beginning of February, which is when they will make their decision.
Duty to publicise
We at IOW Save Our NHS are distraught that such an important issue has been ‘hidden in plain sight’ with little or no publicity except by people sharing on social media.
Few people will regularly visit the IW Council’s Website, so the majority of people will not even know of its existence.
We believe that the Council have a duty to advertise the consultation widely in the press and the media to reach as many of the public as possible and we demand that this is rectified immediately by them.
Flawed, limited, leading and misleading
Further concerns are that the survey itself is flawed and that it is limited, leading and misleading.
It is very unlikely that the will of the people will be served by the survey, which presents no opportunity to adequately challenge any decision being made that will further adversely affect people in our community.
It doesn’t even recognise family or escort users and is simply designed in favour of the council.
It is disgraceful that such a consultation should be done in the first place. If we cannot look after our most sick and vulnerable then what’s the point of this administration’s existence?
Take the survey and find out more
For background information on the scheme consultation, please visit the IWC’s Website.
Access the survey directly online or request a hard copy from Healthwatch on (01983) 608608 or text 07739 436600.
Petition against the cuts
There is also an online petition and it is hoped to achieve at least 2500 signatures which would then force a debate in Council.
Please sign the petition to show your support.
Image: © Simon Wells – The Photographer’s Studio