Dear Members of the Public & NHS Staff,
A secret process to cut and further privatise the NHS is charging ahead across England. It goes under the name of Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs).
STPs are being drawn up in conditions of secrecy imposed by NHS England – as their North Midlands Director of Commissioning Operations, Wendy Saviour, told a recent meeting of Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group:
“STPs are not meant to be published at all. They should not go to Board meetings. Some of them contain very radical things… These are highly political and highly contentious. Once they’re washed off and the national messages are gathered together, they will be published.”
We the undersigned think this is an appalling abuse of our democratic rights and call for protests at local authorities’ Health & Wellbeing Board meetings, Clinical Commissioning Group meetings and at NHS England offices. We also demand to know WHY these plans have been developed under a veil of secrecy with no democratic process and no public accountability.
Local authorities’ Health and Wellbeing Boards are notionally responsible for seeing that STP governance and decision making processes “maintain democratic legitimacy”.
How is this possible, when there is no statutory basis for “footprint” STPs – which are being drawn up by organisations operating without any formal governance process, beyond a Memorandum of Understanding which is of uncertain legal status?
Councillors need to explain to the public how they can square their duty to represent and fully inform us, with their collusion in NHS England’s imposition of secrecy and dubious legality.
STPs are highly political and highly contentious because they involve huge cuts and NHS privatisation by a process of parcelling up the NHS into a new form of public/private partnership called Accountable Care Organisations – think PFI, but for services as well as buildings.
All this is being carried out without ANY legislation to approve the transfer of NHS assets and services to these new forms of PFI.
The outcome will be an NHS that offers reduced services, ends national terms and conditions for staff and is modelled on private American health insurance schemes.
Under the new Sustainability & Transformation Plans, England has been divided into 44 ‘footprints’ which must make huge spending and service cuts and increase NHS privatisation in order to access “transformation” funds.
The STP is a very large stick and a very small carrot, to impose cuts and privatisation on our already struggling health service.
Originally sent to The Guardian on 30/8/16
This is now an open letter designed to build support. Campaigners can link to the support pages in emails, social media.
The so-called STP “financial reset” – snuck out by NHS England just after Parliament went on holiday, and so was unable to scrutinise it – imposes new draconian spending cuts on hospital trusts. There has been no public statement of what these cuts will mean, in terms of staff and services.
The STP “financial reset” has also driven newly cash-strapped Clinical Commissioning Groups to plan to withdraw various NHS treatments and to cherry pick patients for so-called Procedures of Limited Clinical Value (PLCV).
According to the Royal College of Surgeons, PLCV basically means any elective procedures the CCGs don’t want to fund – even though they are recommended by NICE and have clear therapeutic value.
The introduction via the STP of new “community care” models and contracts for GPs opens the door to privatisation of community and primary care – as is already happening elsewhere with companies like Virgin Care gobbling up community health & social care contracts and private companies taking over GP contracts.
GPs’ representative bodies, the Local Medical Committees, have complained about their exclusion from any consultation over the STPs in their areas.
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Let NHS England know what you think about their imposition of secret STPs, here is where you can find contact details for your regional office