Sustainability and Transformation Plans are the biggest cuts to the NHS that you’ve never heard of and they must be stopped.
This was the message from NHS Nanas and other members of the public who took part in a protest on 21st October, outside the offices of NHS Commissioners in Wakefield. This is the lead office for preparing the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Sustainability and Transformation Plan.
Save the NHS campaign groups from Leeds, Upper Calder Valley, Halifax, Huddersfield, Dewsbury Wakefield and Barnsley handed out leaflets to passing members of the public. Only one had heard anything about the Sustainability and Transformation Plans.
Dubbed Slash Trash and Plunder by campaigners, these plans require a massive top-down redisorganisation of the NHS, imposed by the government’s quango NHS England, in order to eliminate the deficits that have built up since the NHS has been underfunded by £30bn over the five years to 2015, and to further cut the NHS to prevent fresh deficits arising from the predicted £22bn NHS funding shortfall by 2020.
Speakers at the protest outlined their concerns at the scale of the cuts and the dismantling of the NHS which the West Yorkshire & Harrogate Sustainability and Transformation Plan will bring about, unless it is stopped.
The protesters also handed in a letter to Rob Webster, the Leader for the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Sustainability Plan. The letter expressed their outright opposition to the Plan, because it is designed to massively shrink what was once a universal, comprehensive health service.
Jo Webster the Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group Chief Officer, came out to take the letter. She said that they had sent off the West Yorkshire Sustainability and Transformation Plan to NHS England that morning. She added that it has no content beyond “the strategic context” and that they will consult the public when they have proposals for cuts. She added,
“This is using your language, not ours.”
She said one of the aims of the STP was to reduce waste.
Campaigners remarked that the biggest waste of all in the NHS is Clinical Commissioning Groups and the marketisation and privatisation of the NHS that they were set up to administer. This costs around 10% of the total NHS England budget.
Retired Calderdale Royal Hospital consultant Dr Colin Hutchinson said,
“Sustainability and Transformation Plans are designed to deflect blame and the anger of local people, away from the Government and local politicians, for the savage cuts in services, closures of hospitals and down-grading of accident and emergency departments.
They are the vehicle to deliver a stripped-down rump of an NHS to private corporations: the end game is an insurance-based health service, along the American model, which is vastly more expensive and much less effective in supporting the health of its people. The people of England need to wake up and understand what they are losing.”
Jenny Shepherd, Chair of Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS, said,
“NHS commissioners say the Sustainability and Transformation Plan means they have to look at what services they can pay for, and they may not be able to to meet their statutory requirements to provide the full range of approved NHS treatments and services.
They are saying they will cherry pick patients for a range of elective treatments like hip replacements and cataracts. What happens to all the patients they don’t select for these treatments?
They also say the tight financial controls imposed by Sustainability and Transformation Plans raise questions about the quality of NHS services they will be able to deliver.
And they say that the ‘efficiency savings’ the Sustainability and Transformation Plan imposes on Calderdale and HUddersfield hospitals Trust are unattainable. What happens then, when the hospitals can’t make the cuts the Sustainability and Transformation Plan “financial reset” demands?”
“It’s clear from conditions attached to sustainability and transformation funding, and from statements by the Director of the NHS England Strategy Group, Michael Macdonnell, that Sustainability and Transformation Plans will radically increase NHS privatisation.”
Retired Pinderfields consultant Dr Mike Galvin said,
“I believe the Sustainability and Transformation Plan process should be stopped immediately, lacking as it does any legitimacy in terms of meeting requirements of public engagement and consultation. Most people have not even heard of Sustainability and Transformation Plans. Yet we know these plans will involve radical cuts in services at the same time continuing this Government’s trajectory of increasing privatisation of the NHS. The implementation of Sustainability and Transformation Plans can best be seen as the end game for the NHS.”
Christine Hyde, from North Kirklees Support the NHS, said,
“The NHS is rapidly disappearing if the evidence of our CCGs ‘engagement’ events are to be believed. And funding streams are fast being diverted to management consultancy companies, accountancy firms and US companies, away from patient treatment by GPs, prescriptions, and hospitals.
When the suicide rate for mental Health Care Closer to Home patients is 60% higher than for hospital patients, I have NO FAITH in the Clinical Commissioning Groups and the Mid Yorks Hospital Trust’s ‘Hospital at Home’ agenda. Because that is what it is: faith-based patient pathways. What do we want? Evidence Based Planning, pathways and protocols! “
Rosemary Hedges, from Calderdale 38 Degrees NHS Campaign Group, said,
“The public have not had sight of the West Yorkshire and Harrogate plan, but we know from NHS England “guidance” that Sustainability and Transformation Plans will lead to more cuts and closures across the region, and that they’re the government’s new wheeze for fooling us into thinking they are going to improve services and make them ‘sustainable’. No such luck.
What we need, Mr Hunt, is proper funding for the NHS not sneaky plans for rationing, charging, and more privatisation, but that is where we are heading.
If you are concerned please write to your local councillors and your MP and tell them to stop these plans.”
Paul Cooney, from Huddersfield KONP, said:
“It is a disgrace that these plans are being formulated and signed off in secret, with no opportunity for public scrutiny, and yet they may result in major changes to our local NHS organisations and services”