Kim James stated that HealthWatch had received concerns from advisory groups, the HealthWatch board and organisations within Thurrock on how the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership Consultation was being run and how it was failing the people of Thurrock. Kim James stated that this was an unfair consultation which had become inaccessible for some groups within Thurrock. That the consultation was hard to access with only an on-line option available and requests made for hard copies, easy read versions and versions printed in different languages were not being made available to residents. That hard copies of the consultation document should have been more readily available for residents to access. Kim James also stated that the lack of reference to Orsett Hospital was disappointing.
Andy Vowles, Programme Director for the Sustainability and Transformation Programme, stated that the consultation had been shared with HealthWatch on the 30 November 2017 and an agreed approach was defined. That the consultation had been launched widely which had explained how documents could be accessed. Andy Vowles stated that a huge number of downloads had already been recorded. Printed copies and easy read versions of the complex consultation were available. That focus and interaction groups could also be set up for residents that would give them the opportunity to comment and participate.
Mandy Ansell, Accountable Officer, Thurrock NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) confirmed that conversations had taken place with HealthWatch and had agreed that CCG would now print off copies of the consultation. Mandy Ansell drew Members attention to the CCG Insight magazine that included published articles on the STP.
Councillor Redsell stated that a large proportion of Thurrock residents did not have access to the internet and those residents were being excluded and forgotten about. Councillor Snell echoed Councillor Redsell’s comments and concerns.
Councillor V Holloway stated that she was appalled that no easy read version of this consultation was available due to the complexity of the report. Those residents with learning disabilities should be given every opportunity to engage and be involved. Councillor V Holloway also stated that Members of the Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee had previously been given reassurance that Orsett Hospital would not be buried within the STP consultation but yet again hardly any references had been made to Orsett Hospital.
Andy Vowles stated that Essex County Council had advised that an easy read version of the complex report would be difficult to prepare but this had been undertaken and versions were available. That no disregard to any resident had been made and that the remainder of the 14 week consultation period presented an opportunity to learn more from focus groups. Andy Vowles confirmed that Orsett Hospital formed part of the STP and this had been shared with HealthWatch and was included in the five principles for the proposed future hospital services and reassured Members that Orsett Hospital had not been buried within the consultation documentation.
Neil Woodbridge, Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions, stated that reasonable adjustments should be made to the consultation for those with learning disabilities and that HealthWatch and Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions now had the hard task of working with those groups to get them involved and to reassure them that there had been no conspiracy against them.
Councillor Redsell stated that discussion events should have been advertised earlier to enable resident participation.
Councillor Snell stated that there had clearly been some communication issues with the publishing of the consultation and having not been passed through the correct channels. That future consultations should ensure that easy read versions were available.