£22bn more NHS cuts planned

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NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) will have to deliver £22bn in cuts by 2020/2021 in order to balance health and social care spending across 44 ‘footprint’ areas, BMA analysis has found.

This raises serious concerns about cuts to services and the impact on patient care, the BMA (British Medical Association) warned yesterday. Officials in each area have been asked by NHS England to predict in their STPs the financial hole they face in their budgets and set out how they can close it. The savings figures were found in papers from 42 of the 44 areas across England.

This comes as a new BMA survey has revealed that over two thirds of doctors say they have not been consulted on STPs. The survey also shows that a third of doctors have never heard of STPs and a fifth do not support the introduction of the plans.

The BMA has serious concerns about the ways in which some of these plans have been put together and that they will be used as a cover for delivering cuts. This comes ahead of next week’s Autumn Statement in which it has been reported that much needed additional investment for the NHS has been ruled out.

Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair said: ‘Given the scale of the savings required in each area, there is a real risk that these transformation plans will be used as a cover for delivering cuts, starving services of resource and patients of vital care.

‘It is extremely concerning that the majority of doctors have not been consulted on the plans, particularly as ministers have been so keen to insist that all stakeholders would be involved.’

He stressed that ‘any plans about the future of the NHS must be drawn up in an open and transparent way, and have the support and involvement of clinicians, patients and the public from the outset. At this stage nobody can be confident that this has happened.’

Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is warning of cuts to bridge a £250m ‘gap’ ahead of tomorrow’s publication of Herefordshire and Worcestershire Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP).

South Worcestershire CCG chief operating officer Simon Trickett told a Worcestershire County Council health and wellbeing board meeting last week that the two counties spend around £1.16bn on healthcare now and that will rise to £1.32bn by 2021 but if they ‘carry on as they are now’ they would need £250m extra funding.

• The government is to privatise the NHS’s in-house, publicly-owned provider of agency staff, ministers have announced. NHS Professionals, the health service’s main staffing agency, provides 90,000 health workers to around a quarter of NHS trusts, covering two million shifts a year.

In a House of Commons written statement issued last Thursday, health minister Philip Dunne announced a planned ‘joint venture partnership’ where the Department of Health would sell off a majority stake in the organisation to the private sector with the aim of ‘creating a profitable business model’.