Kent and Medway Sustainability and Transformation Plan
- The NHS is for the people – it is for when we are ill this is its function.
- To deliver care that is free at the point of delivery ‘from the cradle to the grave’.
- We all realise that the NHS is in crisis – chronically underfunded and short of resources.
- This precious institution much loved and valued by us is in jeopardy.
The NHS 5 year forward view was published in October 2014 – as a “collective vision” for how the Health Service needed to change between 2015/16 and 2020/21. Thus Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships have been set up throughout the UK by Department of Health. NHS England is behind the idea. Central to the vision is the integration of health and social care services with new models of care being introduced. The aim is to close the widening gaps in the health of the population, quality of care and the funding of services.
For us in Swanley, the Kent and Medway NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plan is what will concern us. They have set out key proposals for our area. These proposals have been heavily criticised by the Labour Party in Kent. Rosie Duffield (Labour MP for Canterbury and indeed our only Labour MP in Kent) led a recent meeting on this plan. Kent and Medway STP have presented policies as a moderate development of existing NHS policies. They emphasise prevention and dealing with an ageing population.
Duffield sees this as an attack on services, inviting mass closures of beds, hospital services and serious reductions in “activity” (treatment of patients). The reasons are purely economic and the refusal of the Tory Government to fund the NHS properly. The core assumption is that the present services are financially unsustainable and this will be worsened by the rising demand for elective measures.
Kent and Medway STP want to relocate services from acute hospitals out into the community. The Labour Party are in favour of improving community services and recognise that many people prefer to be treated at home. However, they are concerned that this is a purely cost cutting exercise and could result in a reduction of services. The STPs have no legal status and as such are not statutory bodies. Therefore, they cannot consult and as yet it is uncertain which bodies will be consulted and when. There is a concern that changes will be implemented through administrative action. The main aim of the plan is to reduce the number of acute admissions into the hospitals and treat them out in the community instead. The target is to save £160 million per annum. The assumption by Kent and Medway STP is that there will be a deficit of £480 million a year if nothing is done.
The timescale allowed for this changeover is 2020/21. There is no evidence that this can be achieved and the plan will be to shut services in the hospitals even if community services are not developed enough to take over. The Labour Party are concerned that in order to reach the financial targets –there will be a reduction in staff and also closure of some hospital sites. Services will be reduced in the hospitals and there will be a decline in hospital treatment. It will also involve spending to save and this money will be capital spend – this might not be available. The time scale is unrealistic – it is a massive undertaking to relocate services on this scale
It also means that the NHS will have to use higher input from voluntary and independent Providers.
The core message here is we need Labour Government to sort out the NHS. The NHS was a Labour innovation and we care desperately for it and for the people is serves. Here in Kent we oppose the Kent and Medway scheme – because it is financially driven and is based on false assumption that community services will be effective in this instance and within the time frame – by 2020/21.
This government knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing. These plans do not take quality of care into consideration. There is no inclusion of mental health in these plans and how this can interact with other services. There is a 5-year forward view of mental health and this has not been taken into consideration.
Services will be cut without community services being available. The timescale makes this scenario likely.
Watch this space for information on how to campaign with the Labour Party against these plans. There will be a representative from Rosie Duffield’s research team coming to talk to Sevenoaks Constituency Labour Party on this subject.
Please help the Labour Party to oppose these plans which are not in the interests of quality for patients and will also result in class differentials within the Health Service.