NHS STP – Slash, Trash and Privatise

This is the text of a speech I gave to Lewisham Council this week as the lead watchdog councillor for Lewisham on the so-called ‘STP’ plans for the future of the NHS in south east London. We are all deeply concerned that the plans mean further damaging cuts and the potential loss of Lewisham A&E.

“This motion is about the future of our NHS.

 This motion is about the South East London Sustainability and Transformation Plan, the STP.

Campaigners and Trade Unions have called the STPs – Slash, Trash and Privatise as the struggling NHS patient faces cuts of £20 billion. Here, in South East London it is estimated there will be a £1 billion shortfall in funding.

Firstly, let me reiterate the first line in our motion; – we welcome the publication – albeit partial publication – of the STP. Now we can begin to analyse and scrutinise the emerging plans. But let me tell the Council that today Cllr Muldoon and I have taken an extraordinary step. We have had to use the Freedom of Information Act to request disclosure of the appendices which contain vital financial information that the STP is based on. I understand that these will show the need for huge ‘efficiency savings’ maybe double those so far revealed. It is also extraordinary that our own Chief Executive, Barry Quirk who chaired the STP for SE London has written to me to say he does not have these documents. Quite extraordinary!

As a Council we need to carefully evaluate these plans: As the Autumn Statement gives us no comfort. It is projected that adult social care will be underfunded by some £242 million across the six boroughs – Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham – annually by 2020-2021.

It is clear a partnership approach across SE London and across the whole Greater London is the right approach. No-one will argue with that. Higher quality and more integrated social care, acute care, elective care with specialist and mental health services is a good thing.

The Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign accepts that and locally the NHS has committed to retaining our A&Es.

However, their [Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign] detailed report shows that they believe that the flawed financial modelling will inevitably lead to knee jerk reactions. With the previous Chief Executive of King’s College NHS Foundation Trust, Tim Smart saying: “We have a Lewisham Hospital size hole in our budget” – They are rightly concerned that Lewisham and Greenwich NHS cannot sustain two A&E Departments and all the other services necessary to support them functioning safely.

Be under no illusion. Lewisham A&E is under threat again. The very existence of Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust is threatened.

 I ask Members to press for consultation on all the changes and on the STP itself.

 We request:

  • Request full publication of all associated documents and appendices
  • Request pre decision scrutiny on changes to NHS and social care provision locally
  • Require full public consultation on significant changes to any services
  • Call on HM Government to provide the resources to fund good quality services across South East London and re-affirm Lewisham Council’s commitment to an Accident and Emergency Department on the Lewisham Hospital site

Let me return to the Autumn Statement earlier today.

Our Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell said in response to today’s announcements:

‘There’s nothing for social care and 3.9 million people on NHS waiting lists – it is the highest ever and we are facing hospital closures and health spending per head of population is falling. Nothing has been proposed to meet the scale of that challenge.’

 

 Chair, I beg to move the motion in my name.”

The motion text is here:

COUNCIL MOTION – Proposed by Cllr Alan Hall
NHS SUSTAINABILITY AND TRANSFORMATION PLANS

 “The Council welcomes the publication of South East London’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP). The Council also notes:

  • That there is a significant shortage of funds in the NHS and social care system
  • That respected think tank The Kings Fund has publicly expressed its numerous concerns over the STP process including:

“Tight deadlines have made it difficult to secure meaningful involvement in the plans from key stakeholders, including patients and the public, local authorities, clinicians and other frontline staff.”

“Despite the focus on local ownership, key elements of the process have been ‘top-down’.”

 “National requirements and deadlines for the plans have changed over time, and guidance for STP leaders has sometimes been inconsistent and often arrived late.”

Therefore, the Council resolves to:

  • Request full publication of all associated documents and appendices
  • Request pre decision scrutiny on changes to NHS and social care provision locally
  • Require full public consultation on significant changes to any services
  • Call on HM Government to provide the resources to fund good quality services across South East London and re-affirms its commitment to an Accident and Emergency Department on the Lewisham Hospital site