The NHS has been talking to people about changes to the three hospitals in Leicester for many years. All this feedback has helped shape the proposal.
The current configuration of Leicester’s hospitals is more an accident of history rather than design. For the last decade our clinical teams have been telling us that it is almost impossible to run effective services when people and expensive kit are duplicated and triplicated across three hospitals. Staff and patients are transferred between the three sites. Clinical services that ought to be next to one another are separated which hinders team working and is expensive to run.
To address these issues, many different scenarios have been considered and evaluated before arriving at the current proposal.
Over the years we have spoken to a huge number of patients, members of the public, carers, staff, and representatives from other organisations. Our engagement has included:
- A questionnaire that attracted more than 1,000 respondents (as part of Better Care Together, our local partnership of health and social care organisations)
- Engagement from January to March 2017 on our local strategic plan for health and social care in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. We reached more than 10,000 people through publicity, meetings and events, and digital/social media
- Nine public events held across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland in October and November 2018, attracting 317 people
- Attendance at 15 community meetings in 2019 with local voluntary and community sector groups, meeting approximately 300 people (VCS pictures Jo Ryder)
- Discussions with councillors and various local authority committee meetings including health and wellbeing boards and scrutiny meetings
- Engagement of MPs with face-to-face and written briefings
- An online video and booklet in August 2019 informing people of the proposal for the hospitals which was promoted through social media and a newspaper and broadcast media campaign
- Specific stakeholder meetings looking at a range of options for Leicester’s hospitals
- Extensive engagement work with clinicians, such as doctors, midwives, nurses and other health and care professionals, to gain clinical assurance of the proposal.
Some of the big issues that emerged during these conversations, that have helped improve our plans, include:
- Frustration of having been sent from one hospital to another for different elements of treatment
- Long waits for certain treatments and appointments
- Cancelled appointments and operations
- Concerns about the reduction in acute bed numbers
- The value placed on midwifery-led services.
- We continue to engage with patients, carers, staff and stakeholders through events, meetings, outreach work and printed publications.
Ensuring equality of care
As both a legal requirement, but also as a moral duty, we have ensured that engagement since 2014 has reached out to everyone who has an interest in the proposal and encouraged them to get involved.
An initial equality impact assessment was undertaken to ensure that there would be fair access for everyone, avoiding inadvertently excluding any particular groups of people. The initial assessment, which considered the requirements placed on the NHS through the ‘public sector equality duty’, will be reviewed and revised at key stages throughout the consultation. You can read the equality impact assessment that forms part of the pre-consultation business case here.