AN INQUIRY into A&E services in Bucks, demanded by nearly 14,000 people, has been delayed until September.

A petition was handed over to the county Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee this morning.

But Chairman Cllr Lin Hazell said she wanted to wait to hear the results of the Sir Bruce Keogh report into high mortality rates at the county's hospitals before going further forward.

The deferral on whether a probe will be launched frustrated Cllr Julia Wassell, who has been collecting signatures over the last few months.

Cllr Wassell was not happy with the way the meeting went, saying it had not drilled down into the detail deeply enough.

She said: “I don't think it's going to meet the aspirations of all the people who've signed my petition. I don't think I've been fully listened to about the horrendous conditions they've reported.”

She felt the “bundles of complaints” she has received were not given enough airing at the meeting.

The Liberal Democrat clashed with the Chairman late in the meeting after Cllr Hazell suggested her campaign was politically motivated – a claim Cllr Wassell vehemently dismissed.

Cllr Wassell had been aiming to collect 8,000 names at the start of her campaign to meet the rules for triggering an inquiry but surpassed the amount by nearly 6,000.

Cllr Hazell said at the start of the meeting: “I'm not saying there won't be an inquiry but I'm not saying there definitely will be an inquiry.”

Responding to Cllr Wassell during the latter stages, she said: “I've never said there won't be an inquiry. After the Keogh report and the CCG has commented we will then assess the situation. I totally concur with all the complaints we're getting.

“I'm not closing down an inquiry, I don't want that to be the kind of implication people take away from this room.”

A probe will be reconsidered at the September committee meeting.

Pressure has been mounting on NHS bosses over A&E after it failed to meet its four hour targets during the winter before April, though it has since been a top performing trust in Thames Valley.

An official NHS document put the restructuring of services at the top of a list of reasons for the failures at A&E. Yet, bosses continued to insist that extreme pressures caused by winter bugs such as norovirus had been to blame and matched a national trend.

Transport was one of the key issues discussed at today's meeting.

Cllr Wassell said: “I've had hundreds of complaints about transport, saying it's completely unacceptable. The whole distance issue (getting from south Bucks to Stoke Mandeville Hospital is inhumane. The whole thing is completely unacceptable.”

Anne Eden, Chief Executive of Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust accepted there was work to do over transport and other aspects of the system.

NHS bosses spoke about a community transport hub, designed to make it easier for patients with long journeys but Cllr Tony Green said he had never heard of it.

Officials accepted that on this and other matters communication and public information had not been adequate and needed improving.

Mrs Eden told Cllr Wassell she is keen to listen to the stories of unsatisfied patients.

“We absolutely want to know where we're getting it wrong,” she said.

She apologised to Cllr Brian Adams after he revealed a personal experience with his family last Christmas when technicians were not available to operate equipment, leading to bed blocking .

Mrs Eden said: “That's not the service we want for patients.”

A number of NHS chiefs spoke at the meeting on an array of health topics, including the performance of the ambulance service.

See next week's BFP for more.