Public unable to access NHS meeting where hospitals' response to COVID-19 was on agenda

Members of the public were unable to access an NHS meeting at which local hospitals' response to coronavirus was due to be discussed.

By David Spereall
Friday, 15th May 2020, 11:48 am
Updated Friday, 15th May 2020, 11:50 am

The Mid Yorkshire NHS Hospitals Trust Board effectively held its May meeting in private on Thursday morning, with the public and press blocked from observing proceedings as they normally would.

The trust, which runs Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, as well as Pontefract and Dewsbury Hospitals, said a lack of necessary technology was to blame, but that it was working to resolve the issue ahead of future meetings.

The trust's chief executive, Martin Barkley, said: "Unfortunately, we have not been able to get the technology set up to hold our May trust board meeting virtually in a way the public could access.

Meetings of the trust board are usually held at Pinderfields Hospital, though some are also held at Dewsbury Hospital.

"We are nevertheless keen to ensure we continue to be as transparent as possible in our activities and decision-making so we are working to ensure our July board meeting will be accessible to the public virtually.

“In the meantime, the minutes, papers and agendas will continue to be published on our website, and we have encouraged members of the public to continue to send in questions ahead of the meetings."

Members of the trust board are scheduled to meet in public six times a year to discuss patient care and other key NHS issues.

The meetings normally take place in a small room at Pinderfields' HQ building, but due to social distancing guidelines only some board members were allowed to attend Thursday's meeting in person.

The rest were invited to join the meeting by video conference, information on the trust's website indicated.

An agenda published before the meeting indicated there'd be an update on how local hospitals were coping with coronavirus and how other aspects of care had been affected by the pandemic.

The government changed the law last month to allow councils and police and crime panels to hold meetings virtually, but they are legally required to allow the public to access them.

However, the legislation did not include any mention of NHS trust boards.

Local Democracy Reporting Service

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