August 8, 2016 by Protect Our NHS
We thought that we would share the statement we will be presenting to Bristol City Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board on Wednesday 10th August.
“This statement arises from the minutes of the last meeting of the Board referring to the local Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) covering Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
Four years ago the Health and Social Care Act removed responsibility for the health of citizens from the Secretary of State for Health, and fully opened the door to private providers taking over health services and making profit in the process. Protect our NHS is a local group which opposes these changes and works with others to demand a comprehensive, fully integrated NHS which is financed by taxation and receives sufficient funding to provide high quality services.
STPs require localities to make further cuts in their health budgets, with the aim of reducing NHS spending by around £22bn over five years. This comes at a time when the UK spends only 8.5% of its total GDP on healthcare, against the EU average of 10.1%. We are entering a critical stage in the demise of our National Health Service. Services are being fragmented. Hospitals like Southmead (Bristol) are running at a deficit. North Bristol Trust and two local CCGs are in special measures. NHS hospitals in England have overspent their 2015-16 budgets by £2.5bn.
Protect our NHS is especially concerned about the lack of transparency around STPs. They are part of a top-down reorganisation driven by the Treasury, not by patient need. They are being planned with little public or patient involvement, contrary to patients’ legal rights as enshrined in the NHS Constitution and CCG constitutions. Indeed, CCGs and local authorities have been told that they cannot consult on, or release, STPs until Simon Stevens (NHS England CEO) has agreed them. In essence the plans will be finalised and only then will they be shown to the public. Any concerns or challenge are likely to be far too late.
In addition to the lack of transparency, the drastic reduction in NHS funding is certain to lead to more privatisation. Indeed as the Health Service Journal reported last month, the role of NHS Improvement is to “explore new partnerships between the health service in the private sector including the potential for further outsourcing of clinical services and the use of ‘independent sector management models’”. (See also the CHPI June 2016 report on the 2016/17 Sustainability and Transformation Fund Why it is not enough and what are its implications for the provider sector?)
Protect our NHS is committed to engaging with, influencing, advising and holding elected representatives and commissioners to account in defending the NHS and resisting the push towards an insurance-based health system as in the US.
Protect our NHS asks you to beware of signing off the STP without formally seeking public and patient support. We are in no doubt that the STP agenda which you are being asked to carry out is the final nail in the coffin of a publicly accountable, publicly run, and publicly funded national health service.”
8th August 2016
Full Board papers are available on Bristol City Council’s website