The Government is pushing through, in collaboration with county councils and the commissioning groups it had set up through its 2012 NHS reorganisation, what it is calling “Sustainability and Transformation Plans” (STPs) for the NHS. In Somerset alone these aim to produce £596 million in savings by the the end of March 2021 (by comparison, the total 2015/16 budget for the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group was £706 million).
Labour Candidate in the Somerset County Council elections scheduled for May 4th, Philip King (Cannington division) says “We all want the NHS to be as efficient as possible. Integrating social care with the NHS, to ensure that we all receive the support we need when we get old without having to stay indefinitely in hospital, is something any reasonable person would support. We all want to see more preventative medicine and use of technology to allow us to spend less time in hospital and be better cared for at our GPs or even at home. There is much in these STPs, as currently outlined, that is sensible and really just common sense.”
However, Philip continued “At the same time, though, the core emphasis is on cost savings, and on cost savings to be forced through by the very people, i.e. a Tory Government and in the case of Somerset, a Tory run County Council, who have trashed the NHS in the first place, through their cuts to local authority social care, demands for “efficiency savings” (more cuts) from the NHS and their reorganisation of the NHS under the Health and Social Act of 2012 (the very “top down reorganisation of the NHS” the Tories promised not to do in the 2010 election campaign while simultaneously, as we now know, they were actively planning to do it anyway).”
More investment needed not Less
Philip, who was born and brought up in Somerset and was Director of Nursing at Somerset Partnership before working as Director of Regulation at the Care Quality Commission, said “In reality it is far more likely that, to achieve cost savings and ever improving patient care in the long term, more rather than less investment would be needed over the next few years, which is completely contrary to what these STPs are suggesting. It is difficult not to conclude that the STPs are primarily a vehicle of “permanent austerity”, as supported by rich people who want to pay less tax and who are associated with companies that want to use the NHS, or its disintegration, to make more profit. Remember that the husband of Theresa May is a senior executive at one of the world’s leading hedge funds.”
True Background to STP’s
Philip who now works as a healthcare and legal consultant continued “Note that, according to the World Bank, we currently spend less of our less of our national wealth, our Gross Domestic Product, on healthcare than other developed countries: and that doesn’t just mean the US with its highly inefficient and totally privatised healthcare system. The latest share of GDP spent on healthcare figures are 11.5% for France, 11.3% for Germany and 9.3% for the UK. Even so, the Government plans for real per head NHS spending in England to fall in the 2018-2019 financial year, which explains the true background to the STPs.”
Reject arguments that the NHS is unaffordable
Philip concluded “Above all reject arguments that the NHS is unaffordable. Not only, as we have seen, are we actually spending less on our healthcare than comparable nations, and intending to cut that amount still further, but it is obvious that resources for anything in life, anything at all, are finite. The real question is not whether resources are limited, they always are, for anything at all, but how those resources will be raised and allocated, via taxation from those best able to afford it and then distributed to those in the most need, or simply on a for profit basis to those who can afford to pay the most? Arguments about the “unaffordability” of the NHS really amount to the wealthy, and those who seek to profit form the NHS, advocating both survival of the richest and the greatest opportunities for profiteering. “
STPs -a cover for NHS Cuts
The conclusion is that the STPs, as well as being a cover for NHS cuts, are also likely to be abused to expand the scope for the that very profiteering. Philip adds “ For example, if you read the outline Somerset STP you will see many mentions of something called “Symphony”. Symphony is a private limited company currently entirely owned as a subsidiary of Yeovil hospital. Go to the Yeovil hospital website, though, and, alongside praise for their own “Symphony” initiative, you will see that one of the hospital’s stated aims is to “Commercialise the business model and partnership engagement”.
Labour’s ‘concerns’ with the STPs
The STPs are therefore a cause of considerable concern. It perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise that we, the citizens. tax-payers and patients, are being denied as much of a meaningful say as possible. The details of what these STPs will mean in practice won’t be available locally until after the country council elections on 4th May and even the general election on 8th June. According to the Outline Engagement and Consultation Timeline at page 35 of the Somerset plan, apart from implementation for changes worryingly “not requiring formal consultation” (cuts and privatisations such as those to the Learning and Disability service, that have already happened or are under-way), decision making doesn’t start until August 2017. That makes a mockery of democratic accountability, and must make us deeply suspicious of the real agenda behind the STPs.
In the light of all the above the only sensible option is to try and ensure that those, in the County Council and central Government, making the STP decisions have our interests at heart, and a genuine commitment to the vision of the NHS, so that we end up with a more efficient and resilient NHS able to provide better patient care, and not a gutted NHS and decent patient care only for those who can afford to pay that little bit “extra”.
So back to those two simple things you can do to help save the NHS.
Quite simply: get the Tories out. Use your vote in the County Council elections on 4th May and the general election on 8th June.
Vote for the party that founded the NHS. Vote Labour.
These are real facts. The sources as as follows:
The Somerset STP: http://www.somerset.gov.uk/stp/
The Somerset CCG budget: https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0ahUKEwi29PGG5L3TAhVJLMAKHfT9CIcQFggmMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.somersetccg.nhs.uk%2FEasySiteWeb%2FGatewayLink.aspx%3FalId%3D5557&usg=AFQjCNE83ZclThxJa4rKko1R1KN39_xRHQ&cad=rja
No top down reorganisation of the NHS: https://www.channel4.com/news/factcheck/factcheck-camerons-broken-promises (search for ‘There will be no more of those pointless reorganisations that aim for change but instead bring chaos.’ )
The Tory commitment to “permanent austerity” (nothing has changed!): http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2501697/Cameron-Austerity-Britain-used-leaner-efficient-state.html
Spending on healthcare as a proportion of GDP, according to the World Bank: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.XPD.TOTL.ZS
Tory plans for real cut per head:
What Mrs May’s husband does for a living:
Yeovil hospital’s long term aims for initiative such as “Symphony”:
One of the cuts already under-way: