A report published by BBC has revealed government’s undisclosed plans aiming to apply cuts to NHS services across England. The report furnished a draft form of sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) that propose ward closures, cuts in bed numbers and changes to A&E and GP care in 44 areas. Quite noticeably, there have been no consultations on the plans so far and the plans have not been made public either.
NHS England is aiming to top £22bn in efficiency savings by 2020-21 and so it is planning to reorganize local services in order to provide improved patient care. However, a think tank called Nuffield Trust has commented that even though STPs could lead to “fundamental changes”, many of the plans do not meet the financial targets set by the government and will face a “dauntingly large implementation task”. Whereas the director of the campaign group 38 Degrees, Laura Townshend, alleged that the plans lack any public or political scrutiny at all. She highlighted that “a key concern is why it hasn’t been this transparent up until now,” adding that “these plans are due to be signed off this October – a matter of weeks away”.
Local health and social care leaders are drawing up these STPs to fulfil their task of finding potential savings and efficiencies to meet financial targets set last year by the former Chancellor, George Osborne, and NHS England head, Simon Stevens. The chief executive of the NHS Confederation, Stephen Dalton, has reportedly said that the NHS would not “indiscriminately close services”.
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