READING Borough Council has become the latest local authority to publish the NHS’s Draft Local Sustainability and Transformation Plan for its area.
The Council has taken the decision to publish due to serious concerns about transparency of the draft document, drawn up by the NHS for the Berkshire West, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire area.
A predicted financial gap of £479m by 2020 in NHS spending across Bucks, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West is outlined in the draft document, which was submitted last month to NHS England for consideration.
Council Leader Jo Lovelock, and Lead Member for Health, Cllr Graeme Hoskin, are particularly alarmed at the lack of focus in the document on the essential role of local authorities in providing adult social care services.
Council Leader Jo Lovelock said: ‘It is absolutely essential that draft proposals of this magnitude are brought into the open, publicly discussed and given proper consideration, which is why we have taken the decision to publish the plans and give local people and patients the opportunity to see the NHS proposals and comment.’
On March 22nd 2016, Reading Borough Council passed a motion by Cllr Graeme Hoskin, Lead Member for Health, condemning the creation, without consultation, of the STP area of Berkshire West, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire (BOB), without public or democratic scrutiny.
Commenting on the draft NHS document, Cllr Hoskin said: ‘As it stands, this draft document is almost wholly about how the NHS can make dramatic cuts in order to survive on a near half a billion pound funding shortfall in our local area by 2020 …
‘As a Council we are opposed to the underfunding of the NHS, but we do accept that locally NHS colleagues are being forced to make some tough decisions.’
The STP means:
• Changes in workforce skill mix with more support workers and reduced registered nursing input to deliver £34.2m savings
• National regulators will sit on Buckingham, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West STP board to enforce finance and quality targets
• Potential future restrictions on treatments, as STP aims to save £60.2m from specialised commissioning
Workforce costs in the south of England region will be cut by more than £34.2m through changes to the nursing skill mix including greater use of ‘generic support workers’, according to the newly published STP document.
The Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West sustainability and transformation plan reveals the first reported example of NHS regulators having a key role locally in the plans, with representatives from NHS England and NHS Improvement sitting on the STP’s delivery board.
The document says it plans to reduce a projected workforce growth of 4,526 full-time equivalent staff to an increase of just 978 despite admitting staff will have to manage ‘approximately 15 per cent more patients’.