‘Outrage’ after public kept in the dark about relocation of NHS meeting in Ipswich

The meeting was due to be held at the Ipswich and Suffolk Club. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

The meeting was due to be held at the Ipswich and Suffolk Club. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

Unionists have slammed a Suffolk health group as “outrageous” after it failed to inform people about a last minute relocation of a public event.

A meeting of Ipswich and East Suffolk NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Community Engagement Partnership was due to take place at the Ipswich and Suffolk Club at 5pm on Monday, but it was moved to nearby Manor Ballroom in the eleventh hour due to a lack of wheelchair access at the first site.

Members of Suffolk Community UNITE, a trade union, were among those who turned up at the original venue oblivious to the change and were allegedly told the booking had been cancelled by the CCG earlier that afternoon.

The Community Engagement Partnership is made up of local people and it is able to influence the commissioning decisions of the CCG.

The public are invited along to have their say and among the issues on the agenda was the position of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), which runs mental health services and was last month rated ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission and plunged into special measures for the second time.

Anthony Dooley, a spokesman for Suffolk Community UNITE, said: “Clearly, as far as UNITE are concerned, we believe that given one of the items on the agenda was the NSFT, people went along with experiences and wanted to be involved and we think they should reconvene the meeting.

“How on earth could they book a room and not know that it was unsuitable? They cancelled it in the middle of the afternoon of the meeting, why didn’t they inform us?

“They informed the people in the group, why didn’t they inform people like myself who has been along to those meetings previously, they have my contact details, they could contact me by phone.”

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He added: “It is just outrageous when you put it in the context of ‘community engagement’.”

Mr Dooley said Suffolk Community UNITE had concerns about poor engagement and communication with the public within the wider Suffolk health system, particularly around the proposed merger of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals and the implementation of the North East Essex and Suffolk Sustainability and Transformation Plan.

A CCG spokesman said: “We are really sorry for the inconvenience caused. We had to change the venue, at short notice, to one which was fully accessible.

“A member of staff escorted as many attendees as possible to the new venue, which was around 500 yards away, although it was unfortunate we didn’t reach everyone.

“We very much welcome members of the public to attend the next Community Engagement Partnership meeting in January.”

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