Doctors rally round to support healthcare boss after Merton Council leader calls for him to resign

Dr Howard Freeman

Councillor Stephen Alambritis

First published in News
Last updated
Sutton Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

Doctors from across south west London have rallied round to support Dr Howard Freeman after Merton Council’s leader called for him to quit.

Councillor Stephen Alambritis called for Dr Freeman, who is the head of Merton Clinical Commissioning Group, to step down after plans to save nearly half a billion pounds in health cost across south west London was dubbed unachievable by health service regulators.

Hours after the pair met on Friday, June 6, Coun Alambritis urged Dr Freeman to quit his job in what he said is not a personal attack.

Coun Alambritis said it was the position as chairman which was untenable.

A joint statement released by GP chairmen of Croydon, Kingston, Richmond, Sutton and Wandsworth Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) today slammed what they called the personal attack on Dr Freeman.

It said: "We are disappointed that Merton councillors are attempting to play politics over the serious challenges faced by the local NHS, which we as local GPs are trying to address.

"Dr Freeman is a respected and experienced colleague who has been elected by Merton GPs to represent them.

"He has been part of a south west London wide programme which is supported by all of us and our GP membership.

"Neither he nor we will be distracted from the task of improving healthcare in south west London by personal attacks of this nature."

Anne Rainsberry, regional director of NHS England (London), said: "Dr Freeman is a very experienced and respected clinician, not just across London as a whole, but across the entire NHS and has our full support."

Coun Alambritis has stood by his claims following the outpouring of support.

He said: "It is entirely up to him to call out his position.

"We are sticking by our decision because that’s what the electorate said.

"They wanted St Helier Hospital to stay as it is but to be improved.

"It is not personal, it is the chairman position."

A draft strategy from newly formed South West London Collaborative Commissioning (SWLCC) was published last month stating there is a predicted budget shortfall of £210m over the next five years.

It would be shared between clinical commissioning groups working in Merton, Sutton, Wandsworth, Croydon, Kingston and Richmond.

In addition to this Epsom and St Helier, Croydon, Kingston and St George's NHS trusts have to identify £360m worth of savings over the same time period.

Comments (8)

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5:58pm Tue 10 Jun 14

Forty_two says...

So, according to the above statement by the chairs of the other CCGs in the area, Dr Freeman was "elected by Merton GPs". I would be very interested in hearing more about this.

How was the "election" carried out?
When was the "election" carried out?
Who was able to vote?
What was the turnout?
Who were the other candidates who were up for "election"?
Where can we see the results of this "election"?
So, according to the above statement by the chairs of the other CCGs in the area, Dr Freeman was "elected by Merton GPs". I would be very interested in hearing more about this. How was the "election" carried out? When was the "election" carried out? Who was able to vote? What was the turnout? Who were the other candidates who were up for "election"? Where can we see the results of this "election"? Forty_two
  • Score: 16

6:00pm Tue 10 Jun 14

Forty_two says...

Also, does anyone else think that it's entirely unsurprising that the other CCGs in the area (who jointly make up the "SWLCCGs" organisation) would rally to the Chair of Merton CCGs support?
Also, does anyone else think that it's entirely unsurprising that the other CCGs in the area (who jointly make up the "SWLCCGs" organisation) would rally to the Chair of Merton CCGs support? Forty_two
  • Score: 11

6:07pm Tue 10 Jun 14

Georgia Lewis says...

Dr Freeman's position became untenable a while back at a certain disastrous CCG meeting that ended up being held behind closed doors...
Dr Freeman's position became untenable a while back at a certain disastrous CCG meeting that ended up being held behind closed doors... Georgia Lewis
  • Score: 10

6:08pm Tue 10 Jun 14

Georgia Lewis says...

Also, can we see the CCG statement in full please? That'd be useful. Thanks!
Also, can we see the CCG statement in full please? That'd be useful. Thanks! Georgia Lewis
  • Score: 10

6:31pm Tue 10 Jun 14

puzzled says...

Maybe he would be better concentrating on his own practice
Maybe he would be better concentrating on his own practice puzzled
  • Score: 9

8:16pm Tue 10 Jun 14

NHSMertonCCG says...

The CCG statement was sent to the Wimbledon Guardian but not reported. That statement, along with reaction from a broad range of NHS clinicians and colleagues can be found on the CCG website http://www.mertonccg
.nhs.uk/News-Publica
tions/News/Pages/Sta
tement-following-Mer
ton-Council-leader%E
2%80%99s-call-for-CC
G-Chair-to-resign.as
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The CCG statement was sent to the Wimbledon Guardian but not reported. That statement, along with reaction from a broad range of NHS clinicians and colleagues can be found on the CCG website http://www.mertonccg .nhs.uk/News-Publica tions/News/Pages/Sta tement-following-Mer ton-Council-leader%E 2%80%99s-call-for-CC G-Chair-to-resign.as px NHSMertonCCG
  • Score: 8

7:02am Wed 11 Jun 14

Siobhan Tate says...

At Sutton CCG meeting last week all Clinical Leads on the Board were re-appointed because there were 'no new candidates'. I am interested to know what effort was made to attract candidates but questions from the public we're not allowed. The next opportunity for the public to ask questions of Sutton CCG will be 3rd September, long after 20 June when the Strategy will have been submitted to NHS England for approval (which is likely to be forthcoming as NHS England procured Price Waterhouse Coopers to work with South West London 'health economy' to draft the strategy). Only 14 people (including me) attended the 'public meeting', held during working hours, and at least 5 of those we're speakers. For the sake of transparency, I urge anyone concerned about access to health and social care to attend CCG meetings. Please also join me at. 9.30am next Tuesday with the 38 Degrees 'NHS be more transparent' campaign leafleting outside NHS England Open Day at The Business and Design Centre, Upper Street, Islington N1 0QH.

These events are supposed to be about transparency. NHS England say:
“Open House days are an opportunity for patients and the public to influence how NHS England delivers data, transparency, participation and digital services to ensure the best possible outcomes for patients and citizens.”
At Sutton CCG meeting last week all Clinical Leads on the Board were re-appointed because there were 'no new candidates'. I am interested to know what effort was made to attract candidates but questions from the public we're not allowed. The next opportunity for the public to ask questions of Sutton CCG will be 3rd September, long after 20 June when the Strategy will have been submitted to NHS England for approval (which is likely to be forthcoming as NHS England procured Price Waterhouse Coopers to work with South West London 'health economy' to draft the strategy). Only 14 people (including me) attended the 'public meeting', held during working hours, and at least 5 of those we're speakers. For the sake of transparency, I urge anyone concerned about access to health and social care to attend CCG meetings. Please also join me at. 9.30am next Tuesday with the 38 Degrees 'NHS be more transparent' campaign leafleting outside NHS England Open Day at The Business and Design Centre, Upper Street, Islington N1 0QH. These events are supposed to be about transparency. NHS England say: “Open House days are an opportunity for patients and the public to influence how NHS England delivers data, transparency, participation and digital services to ensure the best possible outcomes for patients and citizens.” Siobhan Tate
  • Score: 9

10:11am Wed 11 Jun 14

David A says...

I wonder who orchestrated the amusing tributes from NHS England et all to Dr Howard Freeman in response to Stephen Alambritis’ call for his resignation? How interesting that such similar phrases appear in the postings on the Merton CCG website. Were the authors too fearful or unimaginative to depart from some template? Did the Puppetmaster consider it too risky to allow them total freedom of expression? Conspicuous by its absence from those postings was any effective rebuttal of the justification for Stephen Alambritis' demand.
I wonder who orchestrated the amusing tributes from NHS England et all to Dr Howard Freeman in response to Stephen Alambritis’ call for his resignation? How interesting that such similar phrases appear in the postings on the Merton CCG website. Were the authors too fearful or unimaginative to depart from some template? Did the Puppetmaster consider it too risky to allow them total freedom of expression? Conspicuous by its absence from those postings was any effective rebuttal of the justification for Stephen Alambritis' demand. David A
  • Score: 6

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