PUBLIC pressure has forced health bosses into a U-turn over a consultation on services which had given everywhere in Derbyshire a voice – apart from the High Peak.
Six public meetings giving people the chance to have their say on a proposed set of principles to help the local NHS make the right decisions about health care and ensure that the right care is delivered in the right places, are set to take place over the next few weeks.
But none of them are being held in the High Peak, so residents in this part of the county would have had to travel to Ashbourne, Chesterfield or Darley Dale.
However, after pressure from High Peak MP Andrew Bingham and Buxton councillor Pam Reddy, a seventh public meeting in the High Peak is now to be added to the schedule.
NHS Derbyshire County said: “Although we had booked venues which enabled meetings in the north, south and the city of Derby, following representations from a local councillor and Andrew Bingham MP we are now seeking to add a further meeting in the High Peak.”
Mr Bingham telephoned David Sharp, chief executive of the NHS Derby City and NHS Derbyshire County Cluster, on Tuesday afternoon, after being contacted by the Buxton Advertiser.
He said: “I was surprised and very disappointed that there were no consultation events being held in the High Peak.
“Both I and Cllr Pam Reddy made immediate representations to the PCT. I pointed out that how could they obtain an accurate picture of people’s views on healthcare in Derbyshire when they weren’t even visiting a significant part of it.
“I am pleased that the PCT have now agreed to add a seventh public meeting to the programme. David Sharp apologised that the High Peak was missed off and has conceded that I and Cllr Reddy were absolutely correct and that there should be an event in the High Peak. He has agreed to propose some dates within the next few days.
“He has also said that the meetings will be very much participatory as they really want to get a feel for what local people want from the health service. I would encourage as many people to attend as possible. Living in the High Peak we are at the northern end of Derbyshire so we sometimes have to shout a little louder to get our point across.
“I was pleased that as well as Cllr Reddy and I, the Advertiser also got involved straight away. Such strength of opinion presented to them showed that we can have a strong voice in the High Peak.”
And Cllr Pam Reddy added: “It is really important that local people come to this event and have their say.”
The consultation, by Derbyshire health organisations, runs until May 31.
The principles have been drawn up in response to major challenges facing the NHS in Derbyshire as people live but have unhealthy lifestyles.
Tracy Allen, chief executive of Derbyshire Community Health Services, said: “We have to find a way of doing things differently if we are going to be able to provide the services our patients expect in future years.
“So, the principles are all about trying to provide care for people in their own homes or as close to home as possible.”
As well as attending the public meeting, locals can have their say, and agree the principles, by completing a questionnaire online or by post.
Copies of the questionnaire are available at www.nhsderbycity.nhs.uk or by calling 01332 868732.