13 more Councils oppose their areas’ “footprint” Sustainability and Transformation Plans

In early December 2016 Calderdale & Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS  posted a summary of 19 Councils’ negative responses to their “footprint” Sustainability and Transformation Plans after the Clinical Commissioning Groups  published them following submission to NHS England on October 21st.

Since then Calderdale & Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS has had news of 13 more Councils’ negative responses to their Sustainability and Transformation Plans – which Defend our NHS campaigners have variously dubbed Switch to Private, Slash Trash and Privatise, and Secret Theft Plans.

These Councils are:

  • Bristol City Council
  • Devon County Council
  • Isle of Wight Council
  • North Devon District Council
  • North Yorks County Council
  • Oxford County Council
  • Redcar and Cleveland
  • Sheffield City Council
  • Waltham Forest Borough Council
  • Warwickshire County Council
  • West Sussex County Council Health and Wellbeing Board
  • Wirral Council
  • Update July 2019 – very belated info about Lincolnshire County Council’s rejection of the 2016 STP.

More details below.

Bristol City Council

The full Council passed a Sustainability and Transformation Plan motion on 17th Jan 2017 that includes:

“Write to the relevant government Ministers to make them aware … of our opposition to their unreasonable funding cuts… Publicise likely impacts on key services and our opposition to these funding cuts to the people of Bristol and encourage them to make their views known and campaign against the national cuts to the NHS.”

Devon County Council

On 19 January 2017 the Devon County Council Health & Wellbeing Board Scrutiny Committee passed a resolution that

the decision to call for a ‘pause’ in the work of the Success Regime/Sustainability and Transformation Plan process taken by the County Council on an all-party basis be…noted and that the County Council continue to press for this to happen; that Devon MPs be lobbied to act upon the Notices of Motions passed by Devon County Council and urge them to tackle NHS England and Government to halt the Success Regime/STP process and press for fair funding for Devon.

At the December Devon County Council full meeting, Councillor Biederman MOVED and Councillor Wright SECONDED:

“This Council is deeply concerned about the impact the proposed cuts to Devon health services will have on patients – especially the loss of whole departments including maternity services at North Devon District Hospital – and massive reduction in acute and community hospital beds across Devon, as set out in the sustainable transformation plan.
This Council also recognises that Governments have deliberately not provided the NHS with the adequate level of funding and now calls on local MPs to lobby government ministers to urgently and significantly increase the level of funding to the NHS, in order to protect our precious health services for current and future generations”

Councillor Greenslade having MOVED and Councillor Biederman having SECONDED:

“County Council believes that the NHS Success Regime project for Devon is now seriously flawed and accordingly calls on the Secretary of State for Health and NHS England to cancel it forthwith. County Council further calls on Government and NHS England to firstly address the issue of fair funding for our area and to ensure the general election promise of an extra £8 billion of funding for the NHS is taken into account when assessing the claimed deficit for Devon NHS services”

Isle of Wight Council

The Hampshire and Isle of Wight (HIOW) Sustainability Transformation Plan (STP) was considered by the meeting of the Isle of Wight Council’s Executive on Thursday 13 October 2016, and at both the Scrutiny and Health/Social Care Scrutiny Sub-Committees (11th and 17th October 2016 respectively).

The Isle of Wight Council’s Executive Minutes record that:

At the meeting of the Executive, concerns were raised about the very tight, nationally imposed timescales involved and the potentially significant financial impact on Island residents that required access to mainland services. Whilst recognising the need to progress the plan, members agreed that there was not sufficient opportunity to give it detailed consideration and support before the required submission deadline. As a consequence, the Chief Executive was authorised, in conjunction with the Executive
members for Adult Social Care and Integration, Public Health and Children’s Services and the Chairman of the Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Sub Committee to consider and agree an appropriate response to the plan, on behalf of the council and for inclusion with the final submission to NHS England.

Following these meetings, the Council’s Chief Officer wrote to NHS England :

The Committees were disappointed, the timescales to produce the plan, dictated by NHS England, did not give sufficient weight to the democratic process allowing it the opportunity to consider the final plan, or debate the issues it raises in a public forum, and did not appear to conform to the best practice guidance (for example Engaging Local People -NHS September 2016).

Lincolnshire County Council unanimously passed a motion at its December 2016 meeting, that rejected the 2016 Lincolnshire Sustainability and Transformation Plan:

The Council 1) cannot support the Lincolnshire STP in its current form. 2) confirms that we are prepared to work with all local NHS organisations to encourage them to adhere to and act upon the views which emerge from the public consultation [on the STP].

There are Lincolnshire Reporter stories about the motion – here and here

Lincolnshire County Council Executive met in February 2017 to consider their response to the Lincs STP. In March 2017 the published a formal response to the STP.

In it the Council Leader, Cllr Martin Hall, said that in considering their response, the Lincs County Council Executive

“had been mindful of…the views of members at Full Council in December 2016 where the STP had not been supported in its current form.”

Cllr Martin Hall added that

“Notwithstanding this, the Executive believes it right to respond at this time to the Lincolnshire STP, in its current guise, seeing it as an opportunity to influence the strategic thinking behind the plan and the context in which major service changes are identified.”

The formal response continued,

“Although we accept and understand the rationale for change within health services in the county, the executive has serious concerns that the proposals in the current STP will not improve services for everyone. Making things better for most people, at the detriment of others, is not good enough.

“We also agree that money needs to be spent on better facilities, following years of under-investment on our hospitals. However, it is entirely unclear as to where the money for this would come from or if it’s even available.”

A list of many other flaws in the STP followed.

The Lincolnshire County Council Executive looks like what is called a Cabinet in other Councils. The Executive Councillors are responsible for decisions on the council’s policies .

Where does that leave Full Council? Deprived of decision making power over the Council’s policies. Not a very democratic system. So does the Full Council motion have anything more than symbolic meaning or force?

North Devon District Council has agreed a motion to halt the STP.

North Yorks County Council

Daniel Harry, Scrutiny Team Leader, North Yorkshire County Council sent a letter to a member of public with this information:

“[T]he Council’s position with regard to STPs is that we continue to request that the Secretary of State and NHS England review the STP boundaries with a view to creating one STP for North Yorkshire. This position is supported locally by the North Yorkshire Local Medical Committee (which represents GPs in the county), City of York Council, East Riding Council and Hull City Council.
The Council has also adopted the position to note but not sign off the three STPs at this stage.”

Oxford County Council

Sustainability and Transformation Plan proposals to cut £200m from the NHS in Oxfordshire by 2020 have been criticised by Oxford County Council for lacking information.

County councillors said they are not satisfied with the proposed plan, which could see services moved from the Horton General Hospital in Banbury  to the John Radcliffe in Oxford.

Member in charge of public health, Hilary Hibbert-Biles, said the proposals were
“not coherent”.

Oxford Keep Our NHS Public reports that Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet are opposed but haven’t yet had the full council endorsement (21 March).

Redcar and Cleveland

Redcar and Cleveland Council passed a resolution at its Full Council meeting on February 16th 2017 which declared opposition to the local NHS “Sustainability and Transformation Plan” (STP) which covers Teesside, South Durham and a part of North Yorkshire and aims to cutting £281 million from the regional NHS budget.

The resolution’s mover, Councillor Ian Jeffrey said,

“across the country local NHS trusts and agencies are being ordered to draw up these plans, which, at heart, are exercises in reducing present overspends in hospitals and primary healthcare services. The local STP, contains proposals to close at least one major A and E unit on Teesside, perceived threats to maternity services and a reliance on so-called ‘self care” instead of using health centres or referrals for in-patient treatment in a local hospital.

I and my fellow Councillors believe that these plans are the precursors of a wider agenda to privatise and cut down on NHS services in an area which, due to gross health inequalities when compared to elsewhere in the country, are desperately needed.. Cuts are not the answer – more investment and longer term thinking is needed from this government. This resolution echoes similar calls by councils across the country – including big cities like Liverpool.”

Sheffield City Council

In December 2016, Cllr Cate McDonald, Sheffield city council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, on 7 December 2016, told Cllr Douglas Johnson,

“The Administration does not intend to approve the NHS’s local Sustainability and Transformation Plan.”

This was in response to a question from Cllr Douglas Johnson, a member of the council’s Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee:

“When does the Administration intend to approve the NHS’s local Sustainability and Transformation Plan for a funding gap of £571 million across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw?”

Cllr Douglas Johnson said:

“The STP process is very much a top-down reorganisation of the NHS.
“I felt that members of the Scrutiny Committee I sit on were being fobbed off without proper discussion of the plans…
“I therefore called for a further Scrutiny Committee to discuss the plans…
“I am therefore pleased that the Administration has made clear it will not be signing off the local STP.”

An examination of the South Yorkshire & Bassetlaw Sustainability and Transformation Plan by the Council’s Healthier Communities and Social Care Scrutiny Committee was scheduled for 4pm on February 8th.

Sheffield is part of the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw area. £107m of the proposed £571m of cuts across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw relate directly to local authority functions of social care and public health.

Even though Sheffield Council rejected the S.Yorks & Bassetlaw STP,  NHS England lists the Council as an “early adopter” of the Integrated Personal Commissioning Programme, which is included in the S. Yorks and Bassetlaw STP.

The Integrated Personal Commissioning Programme blurs the lines between universal publicly funded NHS and mostly privatised means-tested local authority social care for patients with “complex needs”. As such it is a back door route to NHS privatisation.

This is a key aspect of Sustainability and Transformation Plans – so it’s important to realise that Councils’ opposition to STPs may well be more apparent than real.

Waltham Forest Borough Council

NE London Save Our NHS posted in the facebook page on January 17,

Waltham Forest Borough Council Cabinet has today decided it cannot sign up to the NE London STP.  It voted unanimously not to endorse the STP in its current form. Cllr Angie Bean was very angry about the underfunding of social care and the NHS. The Council is taking a strong stance against the government’s underfunding of the NHS. Council leader Chris Robbins highlighted the gross injustice of social care funding. The Council welcomes campaigning with NE London Save Our NHS on this.

Cllr Ahsan Khan, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, recommended the cabinet should reject the Sustainability and Transformation Plan. He said:

“I am sure the council will all agree that we are in an NHS crisis.
“The plans are being rushed through with lack of consultation and democratic oversight.”

Warwickshire County Council

At a meeting on Tuesday, 13th December, the council said it would not support the Coventry & Warwickshire Sustainability & Transformation Plan (STP) until: the health and wellbeing boards of both Warwickshire and Coventry councils had had an input, it is rewritten in language which is accessible to the public, consideration is given to appointing an independent chair to see it through,  it takes into account the crucial role of social care, and it recognises local and easy access to services by the whole population as a fundamental principle.

West Sussex County Council Health and Wellbeing Board

This is a quote from the chair of West Sussex County Council HWB about the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (Footprint 33):

I do have to point out that the County Council will not be signing up to a memoranda of understanding as the document is very focussed on the roles of health partners and is not easily applicable to the County Council. WSCC continues to support the development of locality based plans that have a focus on prevention and support the Council’s key strategic drivers of giving children the ‘best start in life’ and enabling ‘independence in later life’.

Wirral Council

A full meeting of Wirral Borough Council passed a motion to reject the Cheshire & Merseyside STP.

The Council agreed to write to the Secretary of State for Health and call on the government to withdraw these Plans immediately with a view to holding urgent discussions with key partners, including local Councils, on how good quality health and social care services can be provided based on continuing to provide a National Health Service which is properly funded and free at the point of need.

The motion carried said:

“This Council is extremely concerned about the failure of NHS England to consult with elected members and the public prior to the publication of Sustainable Transformation Plans which propose far-reaching changes to the configuration of hospitals in the acute sector and the delivery of health services in Cheshire and Merseyside in order to plug a £908m hole in the NHS finances.

Council agrees to write to the Secretary of State for Health and call on the government to withdraw these Plans immediately with a view to holding urgent discussions with key partners, including local Councils, on how good quality health and social care services can be provided going forward based on continuing to provide a National Health Service which is properly funded and free at the point of need.

Council is appalled that under this Tory government we have:
·      The worst NHS deficits on record – £2.45 billion
·      In England around 3.9 million people are now on the waiting list to start treatment
·      1.8 million people waited four or more hours in A&E last year – up over 400 per cent since 2010
·      One in four patients have to wait a week or more to see or speak to a GP or nurse, or don’t get an appointment at all.

Council calls on Theresa May to give the NHS the funding it needs.”

However, the local Defend Our NHS asked:

“Are Councillors playing to the gallery or actually doing something useful when they say they reject the STPs?

The consultation is simply hot air by some councillors to make it look as though they are standing up for the NHS when in fact they are happy to let things take their malign course. 23rd December is the end!”

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