I would like to wish all readers a very Happy New Year and hope you have had a joyful festive season.
We had some good news on many campaigns in the week before Christmas, including extending funded nursery places to fostered children, a ban on the sale of new leasehold houses later this year, and a consultation on helping existing leaseholders.
We also had some very sad news, including the death on Christmas Day of my colleague and friend Kieran Quinn, Leader of Tameside Council. My thoughts have been with Kieran’s family and friends at such a sudden and tragic loss.
I was dismayed at the announcement just before Christmas that Spencer Ward at Cavendish Hospital which specialises in dementia care will be closing in February, months earlier than planned.
The proposed Dementia Rapid Response Team (DRRT) will only just be set up as Spencer Ward is closed. So it won’t be possible for North Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to keep their promise to keep the ward open whilst making sure that the Response Team could give the support needed by families.
The CCG has been placed in ‘Special Measures’ by NHS England to force through huge cuts in their spending, which the CCG has admitted is the root cause of the decision, but I and many people in High Peak feel let down by the way the decision has been managed.
There are many details that staff, patients and their families need to know, so I’ve asked the CCG to clarify:
- Where the Rapid Response Team will be based and what area will it cover?
- How many staff will be recruited, and how many patients receive support?
- Will all staff be offered suitable local alternative employment? The NHS can ill afford to lose their skills and experience.
- What alternative will be offered to patients who receive respite care on Spencer Ward?
- How many dementia patients from High Peak will be forced to travel to Chesterfield for care and how will their families be enabled to visit?
- How and when will the success of the Response Team be measured?
- If it is not successful, how will dementia patients and their carers be supported?
I asked Health Ministers about the impact of the financial cuts before Christmas, and was told the changes were due to the need to meet “quality improvement standards”.
I very much hope that our NHS care will improve, but if you feel that’s not happening, please let me know so I can help to support local services as much as I can.
There is plenty to keep me busy this year, and I look forward to continuing to fight for High Peak – both locally and in Parliament.