Groups pledge to work for a positive future
4:19pm Wed Dec 19, 2012
A partnership agreement has been signed with a commitment to “a strong and positive future for Newark Hospital.”
Newark and Sherwood District Council has signed up Newark and Sherwood Clinical Commissioning Group and Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The agreement commits all three organisations to maintaining three key elements in healthcare:

o High-quality primary and secondary healthcare for the people of Newark and Sherwood.

o A strong and positive future for Newark Hospital within the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

o Accessible and safe healthcare experiences for patients across Newark and Sherwood district that are as close to people’s homes as possible.

The agreement goes on to say: “We will work together, with our partners, patients and the public to deliver these commitments.”

It was hotly debated at a meeting of the district council on Tuesday.

The motion to enter into the accord was put by council leader Mr Roger Blaney (Con) and seconded by Labour group leader Mr Stan Crawford.

Mr Blaney said the accord followed a meeting with the interim chief executive of Sherwood Forest Hospitals, Mr Eric Morton, and Dr Mark Jefford and Dr Amanda Sullivan, who head the new CCG.

The health regulator, Monitor, has intervened because of governance and financial problems at the health trust.

Mr Blaney said the council was concerned to see what action Monitor was going to take over the trust’s governance and finances.

He said the council was concerned there was no credible plan to deal with an under-use of Newark Hospital highlighted by Monitor.

He said he hoped councillors would back the positive motion and that the word of Mr Morton that Newark was a fantastic facility with a future had to be taken in good faith.

The motion was carried in a recorded vote, with one abstention.

However, it was not without its critics.

Mr Peter Harris (Lib Dem) who was on the board of the trust at the time the crippling £320m Private Finance Initiative to redevelop King’s Mill Hospital, Sutton-in-Ashfield, was signed, that could see as much as £2bn repaid, called for an amendment.

He wanted the words “within the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust” deleted from the reference to Newark Hospital’s “strong and positive future” in case its future lay in a breakaway from the trust.

Mr Harris said he had seen the accord posted in Southwell Medical Centre and questioned why they were being asked to approve something that had already been advertised and they could not change.

He said the next chief executive at the trust might have different ideas about Newark Hospital.

He said East Midlands Ambulance Service, which he said was failing to meet 60% of life-threatening cases within his Southwell ward, was a notable absentee from the accord.

Mr Blaney said EMAS could be included when it was possible to do so.

“If it (the accord) has been published elsewhere it was not by this authority.”

He said the accord set out a clear pathway for the future, had been agreed by the other two signatories and removing the part Mr Harris referred to could result in them withdrawing their support.

Labour’s Trish Gurney said the accord provided a framework for moving forward.

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