THE decision making process of a Wirral health authority has come under fire, with Birkenhead MP Frank Field calling for an urgent inquiry into its operation.

In a letter to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Mr Field questions Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group's (CCG) relationship with the Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, claiming relationships between senior members of the CCG and Arrowe Park Hospital may have dented the "independence" and "integrity" of local health services.

Mr Field is also concerned that the body responsible for commissioning local health services may have taken decisions that do not reflect the will of all its members or the public.

In his letter to the Health Secretary, Mr Field said: “Arrowe Park has a long history of not being able properly to manage its budget. 

"It regularly looks around for further funds to which it demands almost immediate access but is unprepared to make any efforts at reforming its own practices. 

"Closures, sackings and loss of patient services has been its traditional negative stance. 

"The CCG therefore has the near impossible task of winning reform in the face of these negotiating tactics.”

Mr Field has requested a "full independent inquiry" into the operation of Wirral CCG.

A spokesman for Wirral CCG told the Globe the matters raised by Mr Field would be looked into as "matter of priority", while a spokesman for the University Hospital Trust said patient care has and will continue to be "at the heart of all our decision making".

Mr Field's concerns come following a meeting with a large number of Wirral GPs who expressed their dismay at "the failure of the CCG leadership to work together".

As well as calling for a review of the CCG's decision making process, Mr Field also asked for the inquiry to look at "the status of the chair and his eligible to hold this post".

Wirral Globe: 2012 Niblett Memorial Lecture: Frank Field MP

Frank Field MP is calling for an independent inquiry into Wirral CCG and its relationship with Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. 

Mr Field added that the inquiry should be carried out by so done by people "free of Wirral links" and should look at any "strong bonds of friendship" between senior members of the CCG and the most senior officers at the Hospital Trust.

Commenting on the letter, Mr Field said:”The way decisions are made at the very top of Wirral’s health services is damaging patients’ ability to hold them account over the quality of care they receive. We need these practices to be investigated as soon as possible, so that Arrowe Park’s finances can be turned around properly for the benefit of local patients.”

A spokesman for Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: "The working and contracting relationship between Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust as a provider of health services and the CCG as a commissioner is conducted entirely in line with our constitution.   

"All aspects of the Trust’s relationship with the CCG have been conducted in an open and transparent way. 

“The Trust is committed to working in partnership with the CCG and other health partners to deliver high quality healthcare that meets the needs of the communities it serves and which reflect the changing needs of the population.

“Whilst we are currently experiencing the very difficult financial challenges that are affecting the NHS as a whole in balancing increased demand with finite resources, the Trust’s history has been one of financial stability and innovation in the delivery of healthcare, evidenced by numerous external validations and accreditations.

“Patient care has always, and will continue to be at the heart of all our decision making.”

A spokesman for Wirral CCG added: "NHS Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group, Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and NHS England Area Team take these matters very seriously and will be looking into these issues as a matter of priority."