Hospitals are closing all around the country because they cannot afford to stay open, or because there are not enough doctors or nurses to meet patient care standards. In South Devon & Torbay CCG four out of nine hospitals face permanent closure in a desperate attempt to save money and meet their budget for this year.
It is apparent that our National Health Service is in crisis; this view is accepted. Just how far the crisis extends, and just how equipped the managers are to repair the damage, is yet to be determined.
There are two mandates that are triggering this series of closures:
The Five Year Forward View (FYFV)
The Five Year Forward View is a document that has been developed in partnership between various NHS organisations, including: CQC, Public Health England and NHS Improvement. It sets out to define the changes that are needed to satisfy the gaps between funding, healthcare quality, and healthcare needs.
The Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP)
The Sustainability and Transformation Plans are being drawn up by every CCG in relative secrecy because of their potentially controversial contents. However all STP’s must by law receive strong public support before being approved.
What does this mean for our hospitals?
These plans are, as their name suggests, revolutionary, and suggestive of positive changes to the way the NHS is organised and run. I have read some of the leaflets produced explaining the CCG mission, and the intentions of this STP is potentially good. They use such phrases as ‘integrating services’, and ‘providing more care in the home’ where it is wanted.
However, it is very clear that the driving factors behind the plans are monetary and not about healthcare. CCG’s are being forced to maintain their finances within impossible budgets and if they don’t they will lose funding for the very transformations they need to meet their five year forward view. For more information on this go to Patients4NHS.org.uk.
These two actions, STP & FYDV, are the governing bodies attempts to save our NHS; to keep a tax-funded NHS and create the changes essential to address the medical needs of the people.
However, with hospitals and CCG’s failing to stay within budgets, there is a risk that promises will be made that cannot be kept or that figures will be fiddled to keep up the appearance of compliance. See the following quote from the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts:
My own organisation has been working hard on its draft 2016/17 plan since October 2015 and we predict a sizeable deficit for 2016/17. But, the regulator’s control total is for a deficit some £5-10million lower than what the Board currently considers it can realistically and, more importantly, safely achieve… The regulators have provided no explanation as to how they arrived at their control total for my Trust… I have already been in contact with the FDs of almost a dozen other acute trusts, all of whom have “control total” gaps in their draft 2016/17 plans of between £5m and £20m. My real concern is that Boards are being pressurised into accepting a 2016/17 control total that they do not yet have plans to achieve.
For the full article go to open democracy.net/ournhs.
What can be done?
Get informed about the proposed changes.
Write to your MP with your concerns about the the NHS’s budget and the radical changes being proposed.
Attend local CCG consultation meetings and ask questions about what care provision will be made after the hospitals close.
Talk to your friends, colleagues or people on the street about your concerns.
Share information widely on social media.
The more people who care, the more can be done to preserve this beloved organisation.