The Conservative parliamentary candidate for Berwick has issued a statement defending her record as a volunteer governor of the Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust after questions were raised over he attendance at meetings.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan is an elected member of the trust, representing Berwick. The role of governors is to help shape health services in the area and hold NHS bosses to account.
Life-long Berwick resident Eric Bansall-Allan has had to rely on local health services more than most, and has called on the Tory candidate to explain her ‘appalling’ record, which shows that she attended no general meetings in 2012/13 and two in 2013/14.
Eric said: “Healthcare is a vitally important issue for Berwick. We are fighting to improve ambulance cover and access to quality care. Local NHS governors, including Anne-Marie, are elected to stand up for us, to ensure our voice is heard when important decisions are being made. So it is deeply disappointing to discover Anne Marie has such a poor record when it comes to turning up. Residents deserve an explanation as to what was more important than safeguarding our NHS. She is letting down the patients and families she is meant to be representing. If she is not going to attend these meetings and speak up on our behalf, she should stand down and allow someone else to take her place.”
Anne-Marie’s statement said: “Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, of which I and 6 others are Berwick’s publicly elected governors, holds dozens of meetings every year with local governors to discuss specific matters of concern for Berwick and north Northumberland. The four statutory general meetings held at North Tyneside are formal meetings of the whole trust governing body, but it is not where the main discussions on matters local to north Northumberland are held, or decisions taken.
“The meetings which I and my fellow Berwick governors have on a regular basis with senior management of the Trust, take place in Berwick, Alnwick or Rothbury. Their purpose is to discuss with the management the key immediate and long-term healthcare issues of concern to those we represent.
“Over the last 7 years, I have campaigned on behalf of local people for: The new hospital in Berwick, which is now underway; on getting chemotherapy provision more locally, and we now have chemotherpay units in Berwick and Alnwick infirmaries; in maintaining maternity provision locally, and the Trust have respected the views of local mums and families because we made sure their views were clearly heard; dialysis treatment more locally, and we now have negotiated a fantastic centre in Alnwick so that many patients no longer have to go into Newcastle to the RVI; more consultant services at our Infirmaries, and we now have more than 150 different clinics/provision at Berwick; telecare to reduce travel to Wansbeck for many orthopaedic patients, which is now running all the time out of Berwick and Alnwick.
“I have also been able to advocate on many personal cases where a family member has had a problem and the Trust has listened to those of us who work on the ground, day-in day-out, in our part of the Trust. I have been able to resolve issues with families and get better medical outcomes for them as a result of the voluntary role I have as a governor.”
Ms Trevelyan also hit out at Lib Dems in the constituency for attacking her on the issue in election literature.
She said: “I am happy to defend my record with the healthcare trust and on promoting the interests of local people in relation to health in general. I have recently identified and campaigned to raise awareness of a protocol which has a serious impact on our local ambulance response times. I have met with executives and unions, I am meeting representatives of St John’s Ambulance next week and I have invited the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to come up to the constituency to discuss with me patient needs in this part of the country.”
On the issue of the campaigning tactics of her Liberal Democrat opponents, she added: “It is disappointing, but I do not want to be drawn into the negativity, I want to run a positive campaign, setting out what I believe in and what I am campaigning for.
“There are obviously differences of opinion in terms of policy, but the Green Party has run a very positive campaign since they entered the contest in Berwick and have been a welcome, breath of fresh air.”