A Senedd group passes over fresh evidence? How could it be?
In its defence the Petitions Committee had originally been conscientiously pursuing this evidence. It had asked Velindre Cancer Centre for missing documentation essential to legitimise New Velindre’s cancer programme. This is still the case.
What is this fresh evidence?
The Committee’s request to present documents arose after a candid Freedom of Information response from Velindre. Its report admitted to a complete lack of records for key 2014 meetings which determined the entire new programme’s direction. Their deliberations sit at the heart of its 2021 Business Case and so underpin everything. (See this exclusive story broken on this website by Co-locate Velindre in Freedom of Information. But where are the Velindre minutes? January 31, 2022).
Why is the Velindre Trust’s response revealing?
The Velindre Board responded to that request for documents by falling back on its ‘engagement activity’ in 2015, reported online. However, this exercise cannot make up for evidence absent from the clinical underpinning of 2014. Chiefly, it came too late to play such a role. The 2014 decision had already become official policy, done and dusted, especially over the question of location. Velindre had already announced the locating of the new cancer centre away from a general hospital. (See on this website: How did they select the location of New Velindre in 2014? March 16 2022).
So these 2015 meetings focused rather upon operational issues, clearly implying the 2014 decision was no longer up for consideration. The online report makes this plain too. However, the Trust’s appeal to 2015 now reveals its recognition that there’s still a case to answer on lack of documented evidence. And now it had surely used up the best reply it could find in its armoury.
Why the Committee’s action should cause concern
Velindre had still left the request from Committee unaddressed. Naturally, at such an inadequate response, campaigners protested as fast as they could to the Petitions Committee. To their astonishment, the Committee Chair’s reaction, shown in the Senedd webcam and transcript, set this information aside without explanation. It assigned just four minutes to Petition 05-100 before shutting it down for good.
What the Chair had single-handedly done, was to silence a petition calling for an inquiry into the most relevant and pressing question. Namely, the early decision-making laid bare by Velindre itself in its own FOI response.
Co-Locate’s concern now is this. For an NHS Trust to be allowed such a free pass in non-compliance surely sets a dangerous precedent. It threatens all Welsh NHS processes and public health. And it rewards avoidance of the most basic scrutiny, putting at risk all standards of excellence governing Welsh health programmes.
Surely these events only vindicate the very petition suddenly shut down by the Committee chair. Indeed they call for further Senedd scrutiny considering the national and political significance for public health and an urgent inquiry. Only this sort of attention could assure the nation that it’s not okay in Wales to set aside common best practice in NHS processes. Nor is it okay to side-line clinical consensus. Whichever body may be doing this.
Primary Source: Senedd Committee transcript of somewhat crisp proceedings go to: Senedd Committees >> Petitions Committee >> Transcripts >> 21/3/22 > paragraph 195.
The petitioner’s original request in 2020 was: ‘Hold an independent inquiry into the choice of site for the proposed new Velindre Cancer Centre.’)