Health chiefs reported for lack of warning

Rothbury Community Hospital.
Rothbury Community Hospital.
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Health chiefs have been reported to the Information Commissioner and Government for the closure of Rothbury hospital’s minor injuries unit.

At last week’s monthly parish council meeting, Coun Steven Bridgett, who represents the ward at village and county level, said he believed Northumbria NHS Foundation Trust had acted illegally when it closed the service in September, with immediate effect.

Coun Bridgett went on to say that he had referred the trust to the Information Commissioner’s Office after it failed to respond to Freedom of Information requests about the closure.

And he has also written to the Secretary of State about the issue.

He said: “I believe that the way they have gone about it is illegal.

“They have breached two sections of the Health Act 2006, which state that they must be open with local residents , but there has been no consultation.”

He added that the Trust should also have spoken to the county council, which he said it did not to.

“I seriously believe that the Trust has left themselves open, in terms of process, to judicial review,” he added.

“That is why I have written to the Secretary of State.

“I have also referred them to the Information Commissioner’s office as they failed to respond to Freedom of Information requests, and I needed that information.

“That would have enabled me to look at official figures and challenge what they had released in the press.

“I do think that some people didn’t know we had that service, but maybe that was the intention.”

A Northumbria NHS Foundation Trust spokeswoman said responses to Coun Bridgett’s Freedom of Information requests have now been sent.

She added that Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is responsible for consultation.

Dr Alistair Blair, clinical chairman of NHS Northumberland CCG, responible for consultation said: “As previously stated, given the extremely low numbers of less than one patient per day being seen in the minor injuries service, for conditions usually seen and treated by a GP, practice nurse or pharmacist, it was clear the service was not sustainable.

“We are really sorry if some people are disappointed by this but we felt that there was already good access to other local alternative services which are already being used by people in Rothbury.”