There has been talk of underfunding and recruitment problems in the NHS for a long time. But changes currently being implemented could make matters a whole lot worse, and could open the NHS up to privatisation on a scale not seen before.
Councils and NHS organisations in England have been setting up STPs, or "sustainability and transformation partnerships". These plans aim to “bring care closer to home” and to ensure that providers of healthcare (the NHS) and social care (councils) work together. However, the process is being used as a cover for huge funding cuts. There has been no legislation passed for STPs to legally supplant organisations created by the Health and Care Act 2012, such as Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGS).
There are 44 STPs in England. The Derbyshire STP has paid around £580,000 to a private management consultancy firm which is helping to draw up and drive forward the STP and have produced plans called 'Joined Up Care'. But the driving force behind the project is cost cutting. The target budget cut in Derbyshire is £22 million. 535 hospital beds will be lost across Derbyshire, including beds at the Royal Derby- altogether 30% of current hospital beds. Announcements have been made to close two community hospitals and further closures are in the pipeline.
The next stage in the project will be the formation of "Accountable Care Systems". These organisations will be responsible for all care for a population, including medical and social care. STPs are to become Accountable Care Systems, and Clinical Commissioning Groups - which were set up amid protest in 2011 - are to be subsumed into these. There has been no debate in parliament on these changes.
Accountable Care Organisations have already been set up in 8 pilot areas, one of which is Nottingham. The tender for planning this move in Nottingham has been awarded to Capita and subcontracted to Centene, a US private health insurance company.
In addition, the Naylor Report advises the sale of remaining NHS property to fund the massive building maintenance backlog. Protest groups have called this move "asset stripping", and there will be financial incentives for those who sell and penalties for those NHS bodies that do not.
The NHS is being propped up by the goodwill of the staff. GPs and nurses are leaving the service at an alarming rate and vacancies are going unfilled. This recruitment crisis will only be exacerbated by immigration restrictions following Brexit. The NHS is on its knees.
What you can do
- Lobby your MP before the autumn statement. Please contact us if you would like a template letter.
- Request a meeting with your MP.
- Attend the Health Campaigns Together conference in London on 4th Nov. Details here.
- Attend CCG meetings, which allow the public in every second month. There are also often protests outside.
Find out more
- British Medical Journal NHS special issue
- Keep Our NHS Public
- Health Campaigns Together
- NHS Support Federation
There will be a public meeting on Friday November 17th in Wirksworth Town Hall entitled "The Future of Health and Social Care in Derbyshire" organised by NHS SOS.