Councillors are to question the health chiefs who are said to be drawing up a “secret” plan for the NHS in Brighton and Hove.
There are fears that the local Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) will mean closures, spending cuts and privatisation.
Green members of Brighton and Hove City Council said that the plan should be subject to scrutiny, echoing a call by the campaign group Sussex Defend the NHS.
And now, the Green Party said, the plan will be examined at a special meeting of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Green councillors said that they were deeply alarmed that the local plan was not being shared with the public or practitioners that they would most affect.
Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty said: “We are pleased that through our work in council committees, plans for an STP in Brighton and Hove are now officially going to be forced into the light.
“By demanding that the NHS balances the books, the government is imposing cuts on our most vital, free health services.
“In Dorset, hospital beds are at risk. In Yorkshire, leaked plans show proposals to close wards. And elsewhere discussions are being had about closing A&E.
“We cannot have that here in Brighton and Hove and we cannot have these discussions behind closed doors.
“Make no mistake STP is in part a crippling set of political policies designed to force the NHS to concede many of its frontline services to private bidders and contractors.
“Working with medical practitioners, patient organisations, campaigners and the public, the Greens want to help expose these plans for what we fear they really are – a charter for privatisation.
“We will continue to push tirelessly on Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee, the Health and Wellbeing Board and with the CCG themselves for open, transparent publication of these plans and proper consultation, rather than allow these plans to be rolled out with no discussion.
“In Camden the council has published the local STP without waiting for NHS England. There’s no reason we can’t do the same and allow these plans to be held accountable locally.”
The decision to put the plan under the spotlight came as Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Royal Sussex County Hospital, said that it faced a £60 million deficit this year.
Last week the trust was placed in “financial special measures” on the Monday (17 October). On the Friday (21 October) it submitted its contribution to the STP for East Surrey and Sussex – the area or “local footprint” that includes Brighton and Hove.
At a Health and Wellbeing Board meeting earlier this year, the chairman Councillor Daniel Yates, urged health chiefs to share their thinking with the public as they drew up their plans.
He said that if the process was to be democratic and accountable, a proper degree of openness at this stage would be better than coming up with a plan in secret and then consulting patients, the public and professionals afterwards when it would be seen as a done deal.
No date has been set for the meeting yet.
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