A campaign group is to lobby Brighton and Hove councillors over an NHS plan which they say involves cuts of up to £860 million in Sussex and East Surrey.
Sussex Defend the NHS plans to bring a deputation to Hove Town Hall next Wednesday (7 December) to set out their concerns.
The Brighton and Hove City Council Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee is due to discuss the local NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) at the meeting which is open to the public.
The campaigners said
• Too many hospital beds are unavoidably occupied by frail elderly patients for whom there is no social care provision. Our social care system of privatised care homes is close to collapse. Since 2010 funding of adult social care has been cut by 12 per cent.
• The Five-Year Forward View stated that Britain needs “a radical upgrade in prevention and public health”. This requirement has been ignored and public health expenditure has been drastically cut.
• The government ignores demands to improve social care provision but acts on the Five-Year Forward View recommendation to produce STPs.
• The stated aim of the STP is to integrate health and social care, motivated more by hope than any understanding of need, with no consultation of professions or public. From the extreme level of “savings” (ie, cuts) outlined in both the STP and Place-Based Delivery Plan we can only suspect that the real objective is to reduce budgets regardless of consequence.
• In illustration of this, the “do nothing” deficit by 2020-21 that NHS England insists has to be cleared by the regional STP footprint (footprint 33 for East Surrey and Sussex) is a staggering £860 million.
• Two divergent figures are quoted for “savings” under “provider productivity” – £276 million and £340 million in “productivity change”. Whichever figure is correct, it can only mean substantial staff redundancies, downgrading of bandings and posts, de-skilling, increased voluntarism, the erosion of AFC (Agenda for Change) conditions and contracts and mass contracting out.
• Other “savings” specified in the STP report are social care £112million, place-based acute care £171million, “prevention”, a supposed cornerstone of the STP, £29 million. The Place-Based Delivery Plan outlines specific “savings”, for example, a 40 per cent reduction in emergency admissions of people over 75 and a 50 per cent reduction in “excess (hospital bed) days for those over 75” in an alternative setting. These “savings” clearly assume all the displaced masses of patients will be “diverted” to the already grossly over-burdened in-crisis social care sector in the city. How can this be given any credence? Where is the massively increased funding to avert collapse of the social care sector with all the unimaginable consequences?
• There are concerns to be discussed in more detail about proposed new legal entities to deliver the STP, primarily US imports, for example, Coastal West Sussex Accountable Care Organisation, which will become one of the main providers of health care in the region.
• The STP would put the final nail in the coffin of a public nationally provided NHS, give the private sector even freer rein and consolidate a two-tier insurance-based health system. It would have an irrevocably harmful impact on the quality of health and life of city residents.
• Local authorities around England (including close neighbours) are opposing the STP. At least one has initiated legal action. There is growing national recognition of the core fallacy that STP is anything other than the mass divesting of responsibility by the government for a crisis-ridden NHS, the inconceivable levels of debt which have been allowed to accrue and the resulting highly destructive and unpopular decisions to be made. As the sixth richest country in the world, we can and have to afford a nationally funded NHS.
• The Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC), with its role of overseeing and scrutinising our local health services, has to act urgently. We urge you as our elected representatives
– As there appears to be gathering opposition to the STP in the council and in local party organisations, for the HOSC to recommend that the Health and Wellbeing Board and full council as a matter of urgency make a formal decision to oppose the imposition of the STP locally and nationally.
– To convene urgently a review panel to call witnesses to account for all aspects of the STP and the Place-Based Delivery Plan.
– For the HOSC to seek urgent legal advice about the procedure for Brighton and Hove City Council’s agreement to the STP to avoid the undeclared imposition of any NHS England decisions.