On Saturday 3rd December, Save the NHS campaign groups in Dewsbury and Halifax held Stop the Sustainability and Transformation Plans protests – along with others in many towns and cities across England.
The Halifax protest drew attention to the simultaneous UN International Day of Disabled People, and to the way in which, through “employment is a health solution” measures, STPs tie the NHS into the DWP’s health and work programme, that is due to come into effect in April 2017. This will target people with mental health condition and other long term conditions to get back to the work place.
“Support for primary care to manage worklessness and support people with Long Term Conditions back into employment.”
Chrissie Parker, one of the organisers, said,
“We’re saying, act local, think national.
The local NHS cuts to our hospitals are part of something much bigger.
We want to let people know that the so-called Sustainability & Transformation Plans are the biggest attack on the NHS that the public – and most NHS staff- have never heard of. And to let people know what they can do to stop them.”
Time is short: 23rd December 2016 is the deadline for NHS organisations to sign off contracts and operational plans to implement the next 2 years of the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs).
The powers that be are doing everything they can to keep the STPs secret.
Because if people knew about them, there would be an uproar.
Speaking at the Halifax Stop STPs protest, Jenny Shepherd said,
“If they go ahead, STPs will destroy the NHS as a comprehensive health service equally available to all who need it, based on their clinical need.
Because one of the ways that the STPs aim to cut costs is to restrict and withdraw services and treatments, and divide patients into the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ ill.”
STPs introduce conditionality on access to many elective services – meaning that people who need things like cataract operations, hip or knee replacements won’t get them without a long wait, if they have other long term health problems that doctors decide are their own fault.
“Often these long term health problems are strongly associated with poverty and deprivation and the government should be tackling these causes – not telling people their illnesses are the result of their lifestyle choices and they must change their lifestyles before they can access elective care.”
The West Yorkshire and Harrogate STP aims to cut £983m of costs by 2020/1, compared to what is needed to keep NHS services at their current level.
This is because government underfunding of the NHS means the area will be short of £1.07bn by 2020/1, if the NHS were to go on as it is at the moment. But local NHS bosses can’t see how to cut that whole amount. The most they can come up with is £983m.
“Activity moderation efficiencies” – ie cuts to the amount of NHS care available to patients – are intended to cut £142m from the WY & Harrogate NHS spending by 2020/1. Social care in the area – already stripped to the bone by huge cuts since 2010 – is to be cut by £131m compared to what would be spent to keep to the current level.
As well as cuts, STPs will involve unprecedented levels of privatisation.
The STPs set out to radically change NHS governance and commissioning, turning whole swathes of it into public-private partnerships called Accountable Care Organisations by 2020-21 – although there is no proposed new legislation/regulation to allow this.
They have been developed at great expense with input from pro-privatisation consultancy companies
They are being snuck in with no possibility of “engagement” or “consultation” with patients, the public and NHS Staff, since the deadline for signing off contracts and operational plans is in 2 weeks time.
Stop the STPs campaigners urge the public to join them in protests and lobbies of Council and NHS Commissioning Group meetings, write to Councillors, MP and local newspapers. Tell friends, family and people you work with.
You can find Stop STP campaign materials and information here:
Website: www.stopthestps.org.uk. Facebook: Stop the Sustainability and Transformation Plans. Twitter: @STPAgonyAunt. Email firstname.lastname@example.org