Wellington Town Council hits out over CCG's hospice letter
A local NHS boss’s letter responding to concerns about hospice funding was “absolutely appalling”, councillors have said.
Members of Wellington Town Council wrote to Telford and Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group's (CCG) chief officer David Evans after the organisation reduced its annual grant to Severn Hospice from £1.1million to £850,000.
In reply, Mr Evans said the decision “was not taken lightly”, but stressed the CCG is not legally required to contribute to voluntary sector organisations, and had to focus on commissioning core services in “a particularly challenging financial year.”
Councillor Joan Gorse said she was “appalled” by the “terrible, unfeeling” letter, while Councillor Eric Carter suspected Mr Evans was trying to “fob off” members.
Councillors agreed to release a statement about the matter.
Mr Evans’s letter began: “Firstly, I wish to make it clear the CCG has always held the work of the hospice in high regard and continues to do so.
“The decision to reduce the grant was not take lightly and the CCG is committed to continuing to explore alternatives with the hospice.”
He said the Clinical Commissioning Group was still in contact with Severn Hospice – which has an in-patient centre at Apley Castle – “to explore future ways of collaborating to meet the needs of patients”.
Mr Evans added: “Our priority, as an NHS commissioner, is to ensure that NHS-provided services are protected, especially when demand is rising.
“Clearly, where we can, we will continue to make grant contributions to the voluntary sector and are still doing this despite our financial position.”
Councillor Gorse, a Labour member who represents Arleston, said: “These are people’s lives. We all know people who have been cared for in the hospice.
“I’m just appalled by this terrible letter.
“This has been sent to our town council, and we have a duty of care and responsibility to represent people in Wellington and say this isn’t good enough.”
Liberal Democrat Dothill councillor Karen Tomlinson: “I’ve had friends who have died in the hospice, and the last friend that passed away had a family, children and a husband who couldn’t cope. They need this.”
Councillor Carter, who represents College ward for Labour, said Mr Evans “fobbed us of about the Wellington Medical Centre and the Future Fit exercise. He has fobbed us off with this letter and he will probably fob us off about this merger of the two CCGs into one.”
Conservative Dothill councillor Phil Morris-Jones said: “It seems to be at the end of a great long list of things that have melted away.
“This can’t drip away. It’s an absolute disgrace.”
He suggested the council collectively make a “very firm” press statement.
“We must advertise the fact that we are inflamed by this,” he said.