NEW plans to shake-up the NHS have been branded ‘a serious threat to patient services’ by a Coventry MP.
Geoffrey Robinson, MP for Coventry North West, has said he is concerned the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for Coventry and Warwickshire could see the closure or relocation of hospitals and A&E departments in the city.
The STPs, drawn up by each of the 44 regions across the country, have been branded by NHS England as a way of improving the health service and ensuring is future.
But there are growing fears they will mean real term cuts to the health service as the NHS tries to implement £22billion of savings by 2021 to balance the books.
The local STP for Coventry and Warwickshire has been drawn up consultants for Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) and led by Andy Hardy, Chief Executive for UHCW, and submitted to NHS England in October.
But there has been no public involvement in the process so far and only a limited public consultation process expected in January.
Arguing the STPs should be renamed ‘Slash, Trash and Privatise’, Mr Robinson said: “What we have here is another attempt to reorganise the NHS by stealth in the name of improved services.
“Given the enormous financial crisis facing the NHS, STPs are a device to further cut services, erode patient care, with the spectre of privatisation lurking in the background.”
Despite many areas, including Birmingham and Solihull, already publishing their STPs, Coventry is yet to do so – it being expected to be unveiled on December 6.
GPs in Coventry and Warwickshire have also expressed concern at what the the STP could contain, after being excluded from helping consultants Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) and Andy Hardy, UHCW chief executive, draw up the plans.
The Coventry Local Medical Committee (LMC), which represents local GPs, has said it has not only been uninvolved in the process but it has also been refused any foresight at the plans – despite arguing GPs offering around 90 per cent of health care in Coventry.
The Coventry LMC said: “It seems perverse that such a major player in Heath Care has been excluded from the drawing up of plans which could fundamentally change the way the NHS is delivered.
“It is hard to understand how the very part of the NHS on whom the onus of providing care will fall if the STP comes to fruition has not been involved in, or even consulted, about the plans.”
Now Geoffrey Robinson is calling for immediate publication of the Coventry and Warwickshire STP and for a full public consultation to be had into the proposals.
He added: “This is a wake-up call for local councils, politicians, trade unions and the public to make their voice heard, I very much doubt whether one person in a thousand knows what a STP is.
“We need far more openness about STPs as they appear, under the mantle of improved services, to mask a culture of cuts.
“Andy Hardy, Chief Executive for UHCW is leading on the STP plans for Coventry and Warwickshire and I’m calling on him to publish the STPs immediately and not sign them off without full consultation with the public, he is a public servant after all, and a programme of this scale should not be hidden from the public in the way that it has so far.”