Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Worrying State of Affairs.

The wheels of British justice turn exceedingly slowly. City Hospital Supporters made a formal complaint to the Commission for Racial Equality in the first half of last year. In essence this pointed out that the City Hospital population had three times the Black and Asian Ethnic Minorities as inpatients compared to Sandwell Hospital using the Trust's own data.

It is the City Hospital patients (Children and Emergency Surgical cases) that will receive less safe, higher risk care with more travelling inconvenience for their families and friends as a result of the Trust's Interim Reconfiguration proposals. We believe this constitutes discrimination. Interestingly City Hospital Supporters are not aware that there were any members of the Black and Asian Ethnic Minorities on the Trust Board as non-executive Directors prior to its decion to proceed with its plans in May last year. Subsequently some members of the ethnic minorities have joined the Board.

The Trust should have done an Impact Assessment of its proposals to determine exactly how the ethnic minorities would be disadvantaged BEFORE it went out to consultation and certainly before deciding to proceed with its plans. An Impact Assessment after implementation is hardly treating the minorities with the respect they deserve.

City Hospital Supporters urged the Commission for Racial equality to speed up their investigation. However in the autumn of last year the CRE underwent a transformation to become the Equality and Human Rights Commission. This change delayed all the cases under consideration. However a recent letter from a Senior Legal Officer at the Commission indicates that they are definitely on the case.

The "Independent"? Reconfiguration Panel were made aware by City Hospital Supporters that a referral on the grounds of racial discrimination had been made. They chose to ignore this completely. It is noteworthy that there were no members of the Black and Asian Ethnic Minorities on the group of four members of the IRP who attended Birmingham.

The Secretary of State for Health also chose to ignore the fact that the EHRC were actively considering the case when he endorsed the IRP'S decision to allow the Trust to proceed with its reconfiguration plans.

Now all this is very worrying as far as democratic ethical government goes. Why have a body with a grandiose name such as the Equality and Human Rights Commission if government and their representatives can carry on with their activities without even waiting to see the outcome?

Lastly it has recently been reported that the Sandwell and West Birmingham Trust has been asked to delay proceeding with the new hospital. I wonder how often we will hear that refrain? The ink has hardly had time to dry on the great plans for a new hospital, and already the date for it to open its doors is being pushed further into the future. No wonder City Hospital Supporters have serious doubts it will actually be built at all.

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