Aug 26th, 2016
NHS secret plans Press Release
By Luke Ilott
Today, a huge investigation crowdfunded by thousands of 38 Degrees members is making headline across the country. Here’s the full press release on our story about the crisis facing our NHS.
Funding crisis triggers plans to close NHS services across England, investigation finds
Cuts to A&Es and hospital beds planned to fill ‘black holes’ in NHS spending, as local providers set to face £23 billion national funding deficit
Funding shortfalls are forcing NHS leaders across England to draw up plans to close services including A&E departments, patient beds and district hospitals in an attempt to save money, according to an investigation commissioned by campaign organisation 38 Degrees.
The 44 plans, called Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs), are being drawn up for each area of England. Local NHS leaders are being asked to find savings that will help to plug financial deficits.
The analysis, carried out by health policy experts Incisive Health, reveals far-reaching plans to close services, which appear to have had little input from patients and the public. Despite being due to be signed off in October, many draft plans are still secret.
The investigation, crowd-funded by thousands of members of campaign organisation 38 Degrees, uncovered:
- In The Black Country, there are plans for major changes to frontline services at Midland Metropolitan Hospital including the closure of the hospital’s A&E. The plans also propose to close one of two District General Hospitals as part of a planned merger. By 2021, the health and social care system in the Black Country is projected to be £476.6m short of the funds it needs to balance its books while maintaining the same level of care for patients;
- In Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, there are plans to reduce the number of hospitals in the area from three to two. By 2021, the health and social care system in the area will be £700m short of the money it needs to balance its books while maintaining the same level of care for patients.
- In Suffolk and North East Essex, the plan refers to “reconfiguration of acute services within our local hospital, Colchester Hospital University Trust”. Historically, “reconfiguration” in the NHS has meant cuts. There are also plans to close GP practices.
- In Dorset, hospital beds are at risk and a funding shortage of £158 million is predicted in five years. Consideration is being given for ‘consolidation’ of hospitals and acute services;
- In West, North and East Cumbria, the public plan refers to “reconfiguration of all of the services… including for acute and community hospital services, maternity services and mental health services.” By 2021, the NHS in West, North and East Cumbria is projected to be £163.8m short of the funds it needs to balance its books while maintaining the same kind of care for patients;
- A leaked draft plan circulating amongst NHS Managers in West Yorkshire reveals proposals to close the equivalent of 5 wards in the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust. It also proposes a “major reconfiguration” of frontline NHS services in Wakefield and North Kirklees and Calderdale and Huddersfield. By 2021, the NHS in West Yorkshire is projected to be approaching £800m short of the funds it needs to balance its books while maintaining the same level of care for patients.
Responding to the investigation, Director at 38 Degrees, Laura Townshend, said:
“This is new evidence that plans are being made to close local NHS services. We all rely on these services, yet we are being kept in the dark. This investigation – funded by individual 38 Degrees members across England – shows that the NHS is dangerously underfunded.
“These proposed cuts aren’t the fault of local NHS leaders. The health service is struggling to cope with growing black holes in NHS funding. These new revelations will be a test of Theresa May’s commitment to a fully-funded National Health Service.
“The NHS belongs to all of us – so local people should get a say in any changes to their local services. That’s why hundreds of thousands of us have signed the 38 Degrees petition to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt calling for full public disclosure of plans for each and everyone of the 44 areas across England.”
The Incisive Health analysis, published today finds:
‘Addressing the NHS deficit is the overriding priority for Sustainability and Transformation Plans [STPs] and it is clear that STP footprints are considering significant changes, which are likely to prove to be controversial with the public. To date, public engagement on these plans has been limited, perhaps necessarily by the punishing timetable for STP development.
‘It is clear that further engagement with patients and the public will be required before changes can be introduced and the proposals can be expected to provoke significant discussion, debate and controversy. The extent to which local communities will support the plans – or to which NHS organisations will be able to push through changes in face of opposition – remains to be seen.’
Nearly 250,000 people have signed the 38 Degrees campaign petition calling on the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to ensure full public disclosure and transparency of proposed changes before any plans are agreed this autumn.
- The geographical areas are called ‘STP Footprints’ and are a new level of administration within NHS England. As part of the STP process, each of the 44 Footprint areas were asked to calculate a counter-factual ‘do-nothing’ financial deficit for 2020/2021. Not all of the Footprints have done this. Unless otherwise stated the number represents the 2020/2021 ‘do-nothing’ deficit for the Health and Social Care sectors combined.
Where ‘do-nothing projections’ have not been provided by STP Footprints, population modelling has been used to calculate projections based on the number of people living in each STP Footprint. The cumulative figure for the national ‘do nothing projection’ stands at £23 billion. You can access the data in the accompanying spreadsheet.
- Campaign organisation 38 Degrees is millions of people from across the United Kingdom who come together to make change happen. 38 Degrees members are campaigning to secure sustainable funding for the future of the National Health Service and for greater transparency of decision making for local health services.
You can access the 38 Degrees campaign petition here: https://speakout.38degrees.org.uk/campaigns/nhs-stp-petition?utm_campaign=fripr&utm_medium=press&utm_source=generic
- Spokespeople available on request: 38 Degrees Director Laura Townshend and 38 Degrees Media Manager Adam McNicholas will be available for broadcast interviews on location or in a studio. Local 38 Degrees members will be available for interviews in locations across England.