On 17th August the Campaign Against NHS Privatization in Leicester demonstrated against large scale cuts to NHS services that are being planned in secret by a so-called System Leadership Team that meets in private every month.
This Team is in charge of the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Sustainability and Transformation Partnership – one of 44 in England that were set up last year on the orders of the government’s NHS quangos, in order to carry out around £24bn of cuts by 2020/21 and redisorganise the NHS into local services that copy public/private partnership models like Medicare/Medicaid in the USA and the Alzira system in Spain.
STPs are controversial and have triggered protests and opposition across the country.
Under the current draft of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, three hospitals will be closed, staff numbers reduced by 1502, maternity services trimmed and care rationed as services shrink and “efficiency savings” (cuts) of £412.9m are made by 2020/1. A revised Plan is being discussed in these meetings and campaigners understand it will be published around September 2017.
The System Leadership Team includes all major organisations in the local health and social care system.
Campaigners are concerned that these joint committee meetings should be open to the public, according to the 1960 Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act.
Bob Ball, campaign spokesman said:
“Members of the public are not allowed to attend the meetings. Several weeks after a meeting has taken place, minutes are placed in the public domain but it is difficult to understand these when the detailed papers discussed at each meeting continue to be deliberately withheld from the public. We think this continuing secrecy is unacceptable and may not even be legal.”
Bob Ball continued
“To make matters worse, the Sustainability and Transformation Plans are being developed outside the legal framework of the NHS.
“We understand that the government was hoping to introduce legislation to regularise the situation but the plans are very controversial and it appears the government doesn’t think it can get legislation through Parliament.”
The Campaign against NHS Privatization (CANP) is clear that the continuation of “austerity” – ie public spending cuts – is damaging the NHS and reducing the quality of health care.