[20 November 2016]
Keep Our NHS Public is calling for the public to protest about the government’s now all too apparent attempt to cut NHS services, which Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) will mean, in the wake of BMA comment which points out that an eye-watering TWO-THIRDS of doctors were not consulted about these plans, and stresses that massive cuts to services are the likeliest outcome. And all hatched in secrecy.
Dr Tony O’Sullivan, a retired consultant paediatrician and Co-chair of Keep Our NHS Public, said:
‘The BMA chair, Mark Porter is absolutely right to say that the Sustainability and Transformation plans will be a cover for delivering cuts.
‘The NHS is the envy of the world but is beginning to fail during this unprecedented 10-year period of deliberate underfunding since 2010.
‘The Coalition Government inherited an NHS that was Number 1 in the world in 2010. based on our performance 2010-to 2012, since the Conservative’s Health & social Care Act came in in April 2013, in three years we are back with the longest waiting lists and A&E waits for nearly two decades.
‘The secrecy is breath-taking but the reason is clear. The plans are extraordinarily threatening: 30% of STPs contain plans to downgrade A&Es from Shropshire to Huddersfield, Newcastle to London. 20% have plans to remove medical support on site for a local maternity unit and 10,000s of people face journeys of 30-60+ minutes to reach a full maternity unit or neonatal intensive care unit around the country.
‘The way to save money and to restore our clinical excellence is for the NHS to be put back into full public ownership, with fully funded health and personal social care. And end reliance on expensive agency staff through proper workforce planning to train sufficient doctors and nurses. A healthy NHS delivers a healthy population and a fourfold return on the nation’s investment by strengthening the economy.
‘These are frightening times and Keep Our NHS Public is campaigning to help people to understand the true nature of these STP plans and to wake up to this living nightmare. We must protest strongly to force the Government to stop this attack on the NHS.’
Keep Our NHS Public was formed in 2005 and has a broad-based, public membership. There are 65 local groups, plus a national association. It has the explicit aim of countering marketisation [1,2] and privatisation of the NHS by campaigning for a publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable NHS, available to all on the basis of clinical need. It is opposed to cuts in service which run counter to these principles. Further details: www.keepournhspublic.com
KONP’s Campaigns and Press Officer is Alan Taman:
07870 757 309
 Davis, J., Lister, J. and Wrigely, D. (2015) NHS For Sale. London: Merlin Press.
Leys, C. and Player, S. (2011) The Plot Against the NHS. Pontypool: Merlin
Lister, J. (2008) The NHS After 60: For Patients or Profits? London: Middlesex University Press
Owen, D. (2014) The Health of the Nation: The NHS in Peril. York: Methuen, Chapter 4.
Player, S. (2013) ‘Ready for market’. In NHS SOS ed by Davis, J. and Tallis, R. London: Oneworld, pp.38-61.
 The belief that ‘competition is always best’ does not work when applied to healthcare. A comprehensive and universal health service is best funded by public donation, which has been shown to be far more efficient overall than private-insurance healthcare models
[Davis, J., Lister, J. and Wrigley, D. (2015) NHS For Sale. London: Merlin Press. Chapters 2 and 8.
Lister, J. (2013) Health Policy Reform: global health versus private profit. Libri: Faringdon.
Pollock, A. and Price, D. (2013) In NHS SOS, ed by Davis, J. and Tallis, R. Oneworld: London, 174.]
BMA Press statement:BMA Press Release: Embargoed until 00:01, Monday 21 November 2016
NHS transformation plans will have to deliver billions in cuts
BMA analysis has found that NHS sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) will have to deliver £22bn in cuts by 2020/2021 in order to balance health and social care spending across 44 ‘footprint’ areas, raising serious concerns about cuts to services and the impact on patient care.
Officials in each area have been asked by NHS England to predict in their STPs the financial hole they face in their budgets and set out how they can close it. The savings figures were found in papers from 42 of the 44 areas across England.
This comes as a new BMA survey has revealed that over two thirds of doctors say they have not been consulted on STPs2. The survey also shows that a third of doctors have never heard of STPs and a fifth do not support the introduction of the plans.
The BMA believes that sustainability and transformation plans could help develop health policies more suited to local needs and help integrate services across health and social care. However, it has serious concerns about the ways in which some of these plans have been put together and that they will be used as a cover for delivering cuts.
The BMA is calling for:
- The plans to be published as soon as possible;
- Genuine public and professional consultation on any proposed changes;
- All proposals within the plans to be realistic and evidenced based;
- All STPs to be funded appropriately to ensure they can deliver what has been promised;
- Improving patient care to be the priority for each and every plan, rather than STPs being used to cut back budgets and services.
This comes ahead of next week’s autumn statement in which it has been reported that much needed additional investment for the NHS has been ruled out.
Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair said:
“Improving patient care must be the number one priority for these plans. Given the scale of the savings required in each area, there is a real risk that these transformation plans will be used as a cover for delivering cuts, starving services of resource and patients of vital care.
“It is extremely concerning that the majority of doctors have not been consulted on the plans, particularly as ministers have been so keen to insist that all stakeholders would be involved.
“STPs have the potential to generate more collaboration and the longer-term planning of services based on local need but it is crucial that any plans about the future of the NHS must be drawn up in an open and transparent way, and have the support and involvement of clinicians, patients and the public from the outset. At this stage nobody can be confident that this has happened.”
 BMA press statement: see notes.