NHS cuts, downgrades and closures – STP Dirty Tricks No. 1

When challenging Clinical Commissioning Group or hospitals or other NHS services about decisions to downgrade/close/cut facilities and services, as part of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan, please beware that for some time they may well have been deliberately sending patients elsewhere, in order to make it look as if the services that they want to cut/downgrade/close are not needed.

For example, Save the Irreplaceable Torrington Community Hospital (STITCH) campaign group in N Devon report that patients had been sent elsewhere, in order to generate statistics that showed the hospital beds were under-used, before Torrington Community Hospital was closed as an inpatient hospital in July 2013 (without any prior warning or consultation) and turned into a “Care Closer to Home” “hub”.

Their report says (p4):

“The decision to close the hospital and replace it with a “hub” had been made two years prior to its closure…and a carefully monitored and selective admissions policy made sure that occupancy rates remained lower than they would otherwise have been as Torrington patients were treated elsewhere.”

Fighting 4 Grantham Hospital campaigners also report that NHS 111 has been telling people to go to other A&Es than Grantham, and have raised concerns about this with NHS Improvement. The quango has replied that they:

“will consider feedback from local clinical commissioning groups, other Lincolnshire NHS providers, including East Midlands Ambulance Service, and the views of Healthwatch on the impact of the temporary closure. NHS Improvement also continues to monitor the quality of services provided by the Trust across all ULHT hospital sites.”

This raises the questions of

  • why NHS Improvement isn’t considering feedback from the general public who are affected by the overnight closure of Grantham A&E and
  • what SW Lincs Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is doing to make sure that United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust (ULHT) is providing the services that the CCG contracted it to provide

So if you are facing cuts/closures/downgrades via the Sustainablity and Transformation Plan for your “footprint”/area (and you will be), please collect staff and patient stories that show this is happening and challenge the authorities with this evidence of their underhandedness.

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