Questions cover the issues of maternity service change, accountablility; reduction of revenue, ie resources; PFI; the new ‘strategy’ for care closer to home and staffing for the services ‘in’ the home, training, issues numbers per head of the population, outcomes measures etc; also performance measures at the Trust, A&E or not A&E at Dewsbury and what about Huddersfield Royal Infirmary?
Martin Barkley said ” The purpose of these changes is to deliver better outcomes than in the past.” What does that mean?
Following the 2010 election which returned a Coalition Government of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, the Department of Health was too busy with the torturous passage through the House of Commons and Lords of the Health and Social Care Bill, which became the Health and Social Care Act 2012, and took their eye off the ball, neglecting to commission training places in Universities for Doctors, nurses physiotherapists and other valuable and essential health professionals. This resulted in a national shortage which we are seeing today, in A&E surgeons, paediatricians, nurses and other staff. The outcome may have been intentional. Michael Portillo speaking on the BBC Parliament channel following the election, said that the Conservatives kept quiet about their intentions for the health service because they knew that if their plans became known, they would not be elected. The intended change was to the fundamental foundation of what used to be the National Health Service, the Secretary of State’s duty to provide, which was removed and a system of contracting services out to tender to enable more profit making companies to siphon off the NHS revenue put in place with competition law operational.
Martin Barkley says that the Care Closer to Home model of service provision will be sustainable. This is government propaganda. What does sustainable mean? The funding for the health service is a matter of choice. Government chooses to fund it or not. This government and the Coalition, chose not to. Even when ‘Care Closer to Home’ is put in place and Dewsbury Hospital downgraded, completely as planned for spring 2017, the government could choose to reduce funding still further. This is exactly what is happening with the mandatory and secretive Slash Trash and Plunder (STP) agenda, being worked up by the Councils, CCGs and Trusts, in West Yorkshire footprint number 5. The West Yorkshire STP has to save money as part of West Yorkshire’s share of the £22billion ‘efficiency savings.’
There is NO EVIDENCE to show that the cuts to hospital provision and services at home, are less expensive than inpatient stays. The pilots in Torbay were inconclusive. In fact they may prove to be more expensive. The expenditure of the National Health Service model as it had been and the treatment it carried out, was consistently found by OECD studies to be the most cost effective in the developed world, treating everyone according to need. This was the case even including the increased costs and associated difficulties caused by the marketised Foundation Trust system.
Dr Kelly begins to outline what he describes as a “whole system change” in the NHS. What he describes, is chopping the services into tiny bits and letting private profit making companies provide the cheaper, less complex services, such as the dermatology he mentioned http://www.priderm.co.uk and the opticians on the high street. This denies revenue to the Hospital Trust, destabilising it. A new contract announced after the public meeting for Musculo- Skeletal services has gone toprivate company ConnectHealth, http://www.connecthealth.co.uk redirecting even more revenue away from the Trust https://www.northkirkleesccg.nhs.uk/news/patients-shape-musculoskeletal-service./. The ‘Right Care ‘ initiative mentioned is an import from the US. What does ‘redesigning therapies’ mean? The Right Care programme, is looking at money. Is this the first step to withdrawing what was once available? The Royal College of Surgeons has criticised the policy of withdrawing treatments now evaluated as procedures of limited clinical effectiveness (PoLCE) or procedures of limited clinical value (PoLCV). There is no national list of these, as CCGs are free to choose which ones to fund and which to not. The Royal College of Surgeons states that the growing list is “extremely detrimental to patients across the NHS, removing equality of access to treatment, creating postcode lotteries, lowering the standard of care provided in the NHS and potentially reducing the quality of life for some patients.”*
Following the fragmentation described here, the architects of the STPlans want an Accountable Care Organisation (ACO) to put it back together, with the private sector cocooned and shareholding, in the provider structure.
Dr Kelly speaks of the Hospital Avoidance Team, going into hospitals to facilitate early discharge. What we have learned since the public meeting is that there is a postcode lottery with regard to what is on offer following a hospital stay and hospital nurses and other staff have to know where you live, because North Kirklees patients can not have what Wakefield patients get.
We need to take back control of our NHS from the unelected technocrats and their health industry friends – and politicians brave enough to say so. What about the Labour party?
As the Labour leadership campaign enters its final week, the Tories are getting on with the job of dismantling the NHS.
On Wednesday Shadow Health Secretary Diane Abbott warned fellow MPs the government was “planning for disaster”, in an opposition day debate on drastic plans to cut frontline NHS services, so-called ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plans’ (STPs). Abbott slammed the secretive plans, saying they were being “presented as a drive towards medical prevention” of ill health, but the planned savings “could only be achieved by preventing access to the NHS”. And she warned the plans were a “stalking horse” for privatisation, praising “the work of organisations such as openDemocracy and 38 Degrees” for ensuring that “the picture of what STPs will mean is becoming clearer”.
Stephen Dalton of the NHS Confederation defends the plans, saying they “are not about cuts” and suggesting local NHS managers and politicians will “do their best to reflect local needs and will want the wider community to be involved in the conversation”.
But – as yesterday’s Commons debate made clear – that’s not what’s happening.
Cheshire & Merseyside ‘STP’ bosses tell NHS campaigners that they can only see the plan and be consulted on it “when the plan has been agreed” by NHS England, and that STP planning meetings “are not held in public and the notes from these meetings are not published”. NHS campaigners from Bristol to Brighton, Cumbria to Gloucestershire have had their own requests for information similarly rebuffed.
And when Shrewsbury & Telford NHS bosses published their STP plan they were rapped on the knuckles by NHS England’s regional director who told them that STPs “should not go to Board meetings… they are not meant to be published at all…they are highly political and highly contentious”.
So if NHS leaders are not having any meaningful conversation with the public to help them ‘transform’ the NHS – who are they talking and listening to?
A major part of Corbyn’s appeal was that he promises a fresh start from this kind of elitist, corporate-influenced, revolving door politics. He has promised to put an end to the system where policy is shaped by, at best, ultra-establishment figures with well paid jobs within the current marketised system; and at worst, by lobbyists with interests in privatised healthcare. Corbyn promised instead that Labour would be a party of social movements and internal party democracy.
Why so many health campaigners wanted a fresh start from Corbyn
In his first two years of the last Labour government, Blair had been forced to pursue anti-market policies in the NHS by party conference. But in 2000 conference was neutered, and policy shifted sharply rightwards. Although conference has strongly voted against NHS privatisation when given a chance, such as in 2012, such votes were essentially ignored by the front bench, and in 2013 and 2014 the party machinery nobbled similar left-wing motions.
No wonder then that Corbyn’s fresh start was widely appealing to both party members and NHS campaigners.
Straight-talking politics, or ‘crafting a narrative’?
Campaigners were disappointed to find little sign of a break with the past by Heidi Alexander. “I never saw Alexander show any evidence of enthusiasm for engaging with campaigners once she became shadow health spokesperson”, comments Dr John Lister, founding member of Keep Our NHS Public and umbrella group Health Campaigns Together.
Alexander was reluctant to criticise Stevens’ NHS plans, including the Sustainability and Transformation Plans. This was despite the fact that a high-level coalition of leading NHS campaigners and independent experts like Professor Allyson Pollock had managed to meet her and warn her strongly that these meant drastic cuts and more privatisation.
The real problem that Alexander glosses over is that there’s simply no robust evidence behind large swathes of current Stevens- and Hunt-led NHS policy, notably the central narrative of ‘care in the community’. As even the Kings Fund acknowledges:
“it cannot be assumed that out of hospital alternatives are any cheaper. The direct costs of hospital care may in fact be lower unless significant costs can be shifted to carers or social care – neither of which are easy. In any case, switching to community settings just to save money risks increasing the burden on carers and adding to pressures on social care services, or disguising what are effectively poorer quality services.”
Faced by Labour health team silence – with the honourable exception of Justin Madders – on both privatisation and the fantasising behind the planned cuts NHS campaigners organised amongst themselves to bring these plans to public attention. They approached Corbyn and McDonnell, and found them willing to engage with those outside the usual ‘business as usual’ interests.
At times it has seemed as if there’s little to separate Corbyn and Smith on the NHS. Both have issued welcome pledges to address privatisation, reverse nurse training cuts, and increase spending on the NHS.
But the real difference between Corbyn and the ‘business as usual’ crowd that seek to ‘reclaim’ Labour, is not as yet so much in policy detail, but in their attitude to democracy, and how they’ll develop that policy.
For too many politicians, NHS campaigners and independent experts have made nice decoration for election campaigns, but their actual knowledge of what things are like on the ground has been of little interest. Instead, unaccountable elites are allowed to dominate, in a way that increases the disconnect between voters and democracy. This is exactly the process going on with Sustainability and Transformation Plans.
It is the chance to change this which people feel is most valuable about Corbyn.
For the NHS, straight talking and honest politics are long overdue.
To mark the downgrade of A&E services at Dewsbury Hospital and the removal of children’s inpatient and consultant led maternity services to Pinderfields we are holding a vigil for an hour outside the entrance on Halifax Road.
This action will sweep across the Pennines the next day, as campaigners demonstrate , to demand the reopening of Chorley A&E. Protests are taking place at WIGAN, BOLTON, CHORLEY, BLACKBURN, PRESTON, BLACKPOOL AND LANCASTER. . People who should have been taken to Chorley A&E now end up all across the region, at the hospitals mentioned above and anecdotally also in Salford, Manchester and Bury, thus putting pressure on them. In the same way, patients from North Kirklees will end up at Pinderfields or further afield, putting unnecessary pressure on facilities there. Come and join us for an hour. Take an early lunch break, or a late morning break.
“The NHS will last as long as there are people willing to fight for it.”
Have you been redirected from Pinderfields A&E or maternity, to Dewsbury A&E or maternity, in the last 18 months? If so please “leave a reply”. It will not be made public unless you request this.
The Trust says:-
“The changes will take place between September 16th and 19th. In summary:
New midwife led birth centres will open at Dewsbury and Pinderfields and the consultant labour ward will be centralised at Pinderfields which means all deliveries requiring consultant involvement (including Caesarians and epidural) will be at Pinderfields
Routine ante natal and post-natal care, including scans, will still be offered locally in the community and at all three of the Trust’s hospitals
There will be access to scans and assessment at Dewsbury for some women with complications in early pregnancy
A dedicated acute gynaecology and early pregnancy assessment service will be set up at Pinderfields
Paediatric inpatient services will be centralised at Pinderfields
The children’s assessment unit at Dewsbury will be open from 10am to 10 pm and children requiring hospital admission will need to go to Pinderfields (or to a more specialist children’s service)
Acute surgery will be centralised at Pinderfields
Most complex surgery and surgery for people who may need critical care support will be centralised at Pinderfields (except colorectal and bariatric surgery which will transfer to Pinderfields when all critical care services are centralised in 2017)
More planned surgery will be provided at Dewsbury and Pontefract
Outpatient clinics will continue to be provided at all three hospitals
Changes to acute medicine and critical care services are due to take place in spring 2017.”
UPDATE 16th September 19:19
Many thanks to all who turned out especially MP Paula Sherriff who is a consistent supporter of keeping all services at Dewsbury Hospital and spoke about the issues here in Dewsbury, at the Opposition STP debate on Wednesday.
And this is very important. What people with private health insurance and wallets full of cash have not realised is, that no private companies run A&E departments. So if they are in a road traffic accident, they are as vulnerable to death, having to travel 50 miles in an ambulance, as the rest of us.
The rain kept off, the Reporter Series and Look North photographers turned out and in the words of the song …
“We will not give up the fight, we have only started,
At 5pm on Weds 14th September, Kirklees Councillors are attending a drop in session at Huddersfield Town Hall to hear about what is going on in secretive West Yorkshire “footprint” Sustainability and Transformation Plan Board meetings.
Councillors will get this briefing from Richard Parry, who is not only Chief Officer of North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group, but is also Director for Commissioning, Public Health and Adult Social Care at Kirklees Council.
Richard Parry attends the secretive West Yorkshire “footprint” Sustainability and Transformation Plan Board meetings – which seem to leave no public paper trail of agendas and minutes and which meet in private.
Of course the briefing drop-in will be whitewash, so please write to the Kirklees councillors for your ward before this meeting, telling them of your worries about the STPs.
And if you want to lobby the STP drop in session, please turn up with placards/banners at Huddersfield Town Hall at around 4.30pm on Weds 14th Sept.
Some of the worries about the STPs
44 area “footprint” “Sustainability and Transformation Plans”, being drawn up in conditions of secrecy imposed by NHS England, will accelerate NHS cuts and privatisation.
Savage NHS cuts – but no-one is saying where they will fall
The STPs must cut NHS services in line with the projected underfunding of the NHS in England by £22bn/year by 2020; and by next financial year they must eliminate the collective NHS “deficit” – which is the result of six years of government underfunding.
This means West Yorkshire “footprint” STP must make savage NHS cuts on a West Yorkshire-wide basis. The secrecy of the process means we have no idea where these cuts will fall. And they are entirely uncalled for anyway.
As the sixth richest country in the world we can well afford to fund the NHS to an appropriate level to meet the people’s health care needs. The decision to underfund the NHS is entirely ideologically driven.
The NHS “market” regulator, NHS Improvement, has instructed NHS organisations to list services which could be axed or centralised, making “rapid progress” during the current financial year.
The West Yorkshire Sustainability and Transformation Plan finance template was due to be sent to NHS England on 31 August – but we very much doubt that Councillors have seen it. Please ask them.
Councillors did not see the “checkpoint” (work in progress) version of the West Yorkshire Footprint STP, that the West Yorkshire STP leader Rob Webster sent to NHS England on 30th June.
Impossible STP conditions on Calderdale & Huddersfield Hospitals Trust and Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust
We do know that as part of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan, NHS England and NHS Improvement have imposed a so-called “control total” on Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust – ie the amount it can spend this financial year. This “control total” requires the Trust to more than halve its planned £40.5m deficit this financial year, to £16.53m.
So what is Calderdale and Huddersfield Trust going to have to cut, to make this possible?
We do know that discussions about this and other Slash and Trash Plan conditions have been going on between NHS Improvement, NHS England and Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT), but we have no idea about the substance of these discussion. Please ask your ward Councillors to find out.
We do know that as a result of the STP, CHFT and Mid Yorkshire Hospital Trust have been told to:
merge Trust back office functions with other Trusts
merge pathology services – although it is completely unclear WHICH pathology services this covers – if it includes microbiology, this is a risk to patient safety
identify elective services that are largely locum-staffed and that could be merged across Trusts – apparently this could mean either other hospitals’ elective services could come to Mid Yorkshire Hospital Trust, or MYHT’s could go to other hospitals
In addition, because of the Slash and Trash Plan, MYHT has been told it can’t carry on putting patients before money as was it’s previous policy, so will have to refuse to employ expensive locums and agency nurses to reduce waiting times and safely staff wards. At the public meeting on 23 August in Dewsbury Town Hall the chair of MYHT Jules Preston said that a lot of services at Dewsbury Hospital were being dealt with by locums so patients are better going to Pinderfields! But if locums are going to be axed, where does that leave the promises that outpatients and other services will remain at Dewsbury hospital? How can we trust what bosses are saying? Please ask your councillor to put the question to Richard Parry.
We also have no idea how Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust is going to meet a condition of S&T funding, that it must have a recovery plan in place that shows when they will break even, within a “reasonable timeframe”. Because the Right Care Right Time Right Place pre-consultation business case shows CHFT in deficit for an unspecified time even beyond 2026, when the projected deficit will be £49.5m; and during the public consultation drop ins, no one from the Clinical Commissioning Groups or the hospitals Trust was able to say at what point beyond 2026 CHFT might break even.
What is all this going to mean for the proposed “Right Care Right Time Right Place” clinical model, that we have all wasted 14 weeks on a sham consultation about?
STPs require more NHS privatisation – wasting public money, damaging NHS care and penalising the poor and elderly
The so-called Sustainability and Transformation Plans – more realistically known as Slash and Trash Plans – aim to increase NHS privatisation.
This is a condition of the Sustainability and Transformation Funding agreed in the Autumn 2015 Comprehensive Spending Review, which agreed an extra £8bn NHS funding/year – cutting the projected NHS funding shortfall from £30bn/year to the current £22bn/year.
Dr Alan Brook, Chair of Calderdale CCG Governing Body, has said several times during the hospital cuts consultation that privatisation doesn’t matter as long as treatments remain free at the point of need. He is wrong. We have heard a rumour that Kirklees CCG has asked MYHT to recommend private providers to patients, to reduce waiting times, a practice we know from experience is already embedded with some consultants. That revenue is then lost to the publicly run provider, which is having it’s ability to run services deliberately curtailed! Where is patient choice when you HAVE to choose a private provider? It has been lost. Are the risks and downsides of choosing a private provider. explained to patients? *
NHS privatisation also runs down NHS care and penalises the poor and elderly.
This is an outlaw process – STPs have no statutory basis and no formal, accountable governance process
West Yorkshire and North Harrogate is STP Footprint 5. Like the other STP footprints, it has no statutory basis and the West Yorkshire STP is being drawn up by organisations operating without any formal governance process.
The secretive preparation of Sustainability and Transformation Plans, which have only come to light in the last few weeks, is an appalling abuse of our democratic rights. Local authorities’ Health and Wellbeing Boards, Clinical Commissioning Groups, NHS England and NHS Improvement all play a role in the development and implementation of Sustainability and Transformation Plans – but none of them are telling the public what is going on.
Strangely, for such a momentous plan – which would amount to the last nail in the NHS Coffin because of the cuts and further NHS privatisation it will require – the Sustainability and Transformation Plan is not listed in Kirklees Council’s Key Decisions and reports.
The Public Meeting organised by Tameside Keep Our NHS Public on Thursday 22 September at Stalybridge Civic Hall, in the District Assembly Room, starts at 18.30, with doors opening at 18.15. It will end at 20.00.
This meeting about Tameside Integrated Care Organisation is very useful for Kirklees and Calderdale people, because Tameside NHS bosses have gone ahead and done what Calderdale and Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Groups and Health & Wellbeing Boards are still talking about doing – imposing a new form of public/private partnership on our NHS; and this time, not for new buildings, but for NHS treatments and services.
Tameside has now become an Integrated Care Organisation, with little explanation to or involvement of the public. “Seismic changes” are underway in Health and in Social Care, which will affect both patients and workers. It is important that local residents have the opportunity to hear about this and have their say. They are also entitled to hear the views of those who work in these vital services.
Speakers will include Milton Peña, former Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Tameside Hospital, now a campaigner for the NHS; a Junior Doctor in psychiatry; a Social Worker with adults, and Paul Dunn, North West Operational Manager for the Royal College of Nursing.
Integrated Care Organisations – another name for Accountable Care Organisations
Here’s info about Integrated Care Organisations from Monitor (since changed into NHS Improvement) , Ealing and Harrow Integrated Care Organisation and from the Kings Fund – which shows that Integrated Care Organisations are just another name for Accountable Care Organisations.
In American, an Accountable Care Organisation – aka a Health Maintenance Organisation – is a form of health company that provides managed care ( ie care that follows set protocols and pathways on the basis of a capitated budget (ie a fixed cost amount for each person in the area served by the ACO) for a private health insurance company.
Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) were promoted by President Nixon through the HMO Act of 1973, before he resigned in 1974 to escape impeachment for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress. John Ehrlichman – later imprisoned for his role in the Watergate scandal – persuaded Nixon that HMOs were the future for American healthcare on the grounds that:
“All the incentives are toward less medical care, because the less care they give them, the more money they make.”
Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, advocates that the NHS turns itself into Accountable Care Organisations or systems based either on the American Kaiser Permanente system or the Spanish Alzira/Valencia model. The Alzira ACO model is a private/public partnership – like PFI but for NHS services as well as buildings. The Northumbria ACO was set up via a Special Purpose Vehicle – the same financial arrangement as for NHS hospital PFI schemes.
ACOs/Integrated Care Organisations are clearly a route to the further NHS privatisation that is required as a condition of the Sustainability and Transformation Plans.
On Wednesday 14th September, there will be an opposition debate on NHS cuts in the House of Commons. I am asking you, as my MP, to attend the debate and to demand that Jeremy Hunt:
stops the STPs,
protects and reinstates full acute and emergency hospital services at district general hospitals,
protects other NHS services from cuts and privatisation.
These measures are necessary in order to make sure that the NHS is restored as a
comprehensive health service that is equally available to all who have clinical needs for it.
44 area “footprint” “Sustainability and Transformation Plans”, being drawn up in conditions of secrecy imposed by NHS England, will accelerate NHS cuts and privatisation.
NHS Improvement has instructed NHS organisations to list services which could be axed or centralised, making “rapid progress” during the current financial year.
The secretive preparation of Sustainability and Transformation Plans, which have only come to light in the last few weeks, is an appalling abuse of our democratic rights and is being met with protests at local authorities’ Health and Wellbeing Boards, Clinical Commissioning Group meetings and the offices of NHS England – all organisations with a role in the development and implementation of Sustainability and Transformation Plans.
In our constituency, there are public campaigns to keep services at Dewsbury hospital, support the Junior Doctors, stop the STPs and prevent Virgin Care getting the Children’ Services Contract, (soon to be launched).
This needs your support. Please show it, by telling Jeremy Hunt to stop his NHS cuts and privatisation policies, that are undermining, fragmenting and dismantling the NHS in our area.
Despite protests, campaigns and media coverage, many people still do not know about these cuts and privatisations and the STPs. By speaking out against them in the Opposition Day debate, you will help to increase the public’s awareness of them.
We urgently need to you to help get the information out there to the general public in this way – as well as making sure Jeremy Hunt knows the damage his policies are causing.
Only your effective opposition in the House of Commons, combined with mass public opposition, can stop and reverse the cuts and privatisations, stop the STPs and restore the NHS.
I call on you as my MP to commit to urgently support these local campaigns and protests in our constituency, and to oppose the STPs and NHS cuts and privatisation at every opportunity in the Houses of Parliament – including during the Opposition debate on
Wednesday 14th September.
The worst Secretary of State for Health the country’s ever had is slashing the NHS to pieces and privatising it at an accelerating pace. Secretive Sustainability and Transformation Plans (which campaigners call Slash, Trash and Plunder, because that’s will do to the NHS), will mean the end of the NHS as a comprehensive service that is equally available to everyone who needs it.
Grantham A&E is now only open from 9am to 6.30pm. In the evening and overnight, Grantham people who need emergency care have to travel 45 minutes to Lincoln A&E or 1 and a half hours to Pilgrim Hospital in Boston.
Extra distance to A &E is association with increased emergency patients’ death rates, as reliable studies have shown. This is unsafe and unfair.
This is just the latest example of ruthless cuts to NHS services that threaten the safety and health of people in need of health care. That is all of us, at one time or another.
There are well over 50 non-party/cross-party groups campaigning across England to stop and reverse NHS cuts and privatisation and to stop the STPs.
The Opposition Day debate on the 14th September is your chance to support your constituents in the House of Commons and bring the fight to save our NHS right where it belongs – to the worst Secretary of State in the history of the NHS.
[Give your name and postal address, MPs will only take notice of correspondence from
Reproduced from a blog By National Health Action’s Dr Walker.
Watching the battle lines emerging in the press reporting of the new mass cuts regime currently being implemented across the NHS is pretty instructive. On one side you have the government and their appointed spokespeople, scrambling to assuage a newly anxious population with the soothing language of consolidation, reconfiguration, efficiency, and modernisation. They are, of course, gambling on being able to sustain public obliviousness to the fact that these words are synonyms for service cuts, lost beds and staff lay-offs. On the other side, a variety of campaigning groups, doctors and politicians using an array of evidence to carefully unpack these reconfiguration fantasies.
The sheer scale and imminence of cuts is, even for seasoned austerity-spotters, truly shocking to behold. What is interesting now is the extent to which those who are pushing for, and making possible, these cuts have critically departed from reality. We hear that in Dorset, the new STP plan suggests that a ‘reduction in the number of sites’ would lead to a better provision of services ‘for more hours of the day and days of the week’.
In Hampshire and Isle of Wight, commissioners are planning to make general practice more sustainable by cutting GP workload by almost a third, while also significantly reducing patients’ face-to-face contact with primary care.
Stephen Dalton, chief executive of the NHS Confederation said, “These local plans are being made when funding is very tight but they are not about cuts, they are about modernising services to match people’s changing care needs.” I suppose if people’s changing care needs included a need to die of entirely preventable illnesses then he would be right. But it is not.
No amount of PR window dressing and STP gobbledegook will ever convince anyone that removing beds, services, A&E units and GP surgeries is going to lead to better patient care. Indeed the way in which STP plans are wrapping the extraordinary shrinking of our NHS in the language of better patient care has now stretched incredulity to a truly insulting level.
Thus far, those who resist these cuts publicly have made salient points about poor public consultation and lack of democratic accountability, about GPs being excluded from the STP planning process, about how the delivery of integrated care is incompatible with mass service reduction and how poor community provision means it is impossible to transfer acute services to the community.
Huge numbers of people unable to see their GP means a massive increase in patient risk. People are going to die as a result.
For example, when Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland region, reduce the number of acute hospitals from three to two people are going to die as a result of this. Or when in the Black Country region of the West Midlands the number of acute units are cut from five to four and when one of two district general hospitals closes people are going to die. You’ll find the same wherever you live.
The STPs are going to kill people.
Dalton is selling this as modernisation and improvement: it is not, it is the end of the NHS as a comprehensive, universal and accessible service. Most people out there have not been seduced or befuddled by the corporatisation of health discourse that has been designed to obscure mass public service vandalism. When NHS England, the Department of Health, The NHS Confederation and the poor sods charged with spinning STP straw into gold defend against accusation of cuts with their consolidating reconfigurations they remind me of playing hide and seek with my young son who thinks I can’t see him because he’s covered his hands with his eyes. The health mandarins can cover their eyes if they wish but we can still see them.
So where and how do we hit back and resist against this institutional policy barbarity? I have no doubt that many NHA members out there are already actively campaigning against STP but if not and you want to get involved then here are eight ways to campaign
1. sign this national petition again and again and again (share it again that is, only sign it once)
2. spread this fantastic blog far and wide letting people know the real figures behind this sorry mess
3. join a local NHS campaigning group, whether that be NHA, 999 Call for the NHS, Keep Our NHS Public or other. If one doesn’t exist in your area then get one moving with a few friends.
4. use the recent articles in the national press to push for local public consultations and work with friends and colleagues to drum up support to go to these
5. hold local public meetings once the detailed STP plans have been released in your area and the plans for A&E closures and GP closures are announced. Use these public events to inform people and as a base to develop further campaigning
6. it’s a thankless task sometimes but lobby local councillors to stand up in your interests. Let local newspapers know which of them are prepared to stand with the public interest against the STP cuts in their area
7. use the recent articles in the national press to push for local newspaper health editors to report on STP developments and to attend consultation events
8. start a local petition against the closures and coordinate with other groups across your STP area.
These are just a few ideas, there are of course many more. But if ever people were thinking of getting more actively involved in the fight to save the NHS then this is the time.