Health chiefs defend consultation

HEALTH chiefs have hit back over claims that a public consultation could be challenged in court.

Councillors want a judicial review after a poor response to the consultation over plans which could lead to cuts in services at Dewsbury Hospital.

A&E, maternity and children’s services are at risk, with maternity likely to be left with just six beds from the present 40.

Only a small fraction of 89,000 consultation questionnaires have been returned, leading Coun Paul Kane to question the process.

But health bosses claimed his figure of 345 responses was the tally at the end of the consultation’s first week.

And a spokesman for the North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group said there were 1,210 responses by last Thursday, with an additional 343 questionnaires completed online and ‘hundreds’ of responses on email.

He added: “The plan was looked at by the former Yorkshire and Humber Strategic Health Authority, who said it was more than adequate.

“It was also assessed by the Consultation Instit-ute, an independent expert body which looks at the validity of consultations.

“They concluded the plan represents good practice and that the process by the mid-point of the consultation passes their compliance assessment.”

The spokesman said the consultation plan is being looked at by the Kirklees Council and Wakefield Council joint health scrutiny committee.

He added: “The committee will come to a view about the robustness of the consultation exercise once it has concluded.”

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