The next fortnight will be one of the most critical and important two weeks Cornwall’s NHS has ever seen.
No, not the “humanitarian crisis” as described by the Red Cross over the weekend but a series of official ‘consultations’ that will shape the next 5 years of NHS provision in Cornwall.
NHS Kernow, Cornwall Council & the local NHS Trusts are holding a series of public meetings across Cornwall. Time to go along and ask them some searching questions.
The first official consultation meeting is today (Monday) in Bude.
A cost-cutting NHS reorganisation or a chance to integrate services?
Every health and care system in England – they still include Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in that – is required to produce a Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), showing how local services will become sustainable – delivering “the vision of better health, better patient care and improved NHS efficiency” . However this comes against backdrop of a possible £279 million shortfall within five years.
West Cornwall Tory MP Derek Thomas, who has set up an independent ‘Health Panel’ to seek some answers said: “Despite the challenges, I believe that with the right information, the STP can make a difference in helping to integrate our health and social care services”
“A whole range of health professionals including doctors, carers, nurses, NHS managers, pharmacists and those involved with mental health provision will come along to meet with the panel; we are also inviting health campaigners including my predecessor, Andrew George.
“The 12 panel members are made up of people who are fairly distant from health and social care provision, but who all share one thing – a commitment and desire to see patients put at the centre of any planned changes in our health system.”
Others to have met the Mr Thomas’ panel include Cornwall councillors who sit on the council’s Health and Social Care committee and Richard Phillips, a director of healthcare for the Association of British Healthcare Industries (ABHI) who lives in Newlyn but who was able to give a national perspective of the STP process having been involved with the STPs of both Birmingham and Manchester.
West Cornwall HealthWatch campaigners and Friends of three local hospitals presented their views at another session.
Mr Thomas says his inquiry will provide an outlet for the views and opinions of those on the frontline of delivering health and social care.
“I believe that this inquiry will give professionals, who are often overlooked, the chance to be heard and to contribute to the important process of shaping health and social care services,” he added.
“As this inquiry progresses, the three driving values of the STP should be the safety of patients, integrating services to reduce waste in the health and social care system and improving patient outcomes.
“It is absolutely essential that the needs of patients are put at the centre of any changes in health and social care.”
Local health campaigner and Mr Thomas’ predecessor as MP for West Cornwall, Andrew George, has organised an alternative public event to give locals a chance to have a ‘real say’ on the future configuration of the local NHS.
This will be at The Exchange Gallery in Penzance on Wednesday 18th January.
Mr George told CS “I respect that Mr Thomas is attempting to appear relevant even though he’s going along with the STP. I’d be pleased to speak to his panel members as I hope at least they may have a more insightful view of how the STP can be the least damaging that we can make it.”
He has booked and will attend the official STP consultation meeting in Penzance on Tuesday evening (10th Jan) and has discussed his proposed meeting with the lead official for the STP – Phil Confue – and to explain why he is opposed to the STP process.
Cornwall Liberal Democrats are demanding that all local MPs say where they stand on these changes and if they will defend local health services. Adam Paynter Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Cornwall Council told CS previously “Cornwall’s Tory MPs have been deafeningly silent on the flawed STP process that will possibly lead to the closure of Cornwall’s Cottage hospitals.”
The process has been criticized for a lack of local consultation and secrecy in a national report by The King’s Fund health charity.
A summary of the draft case for the NHS “Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for Cornwall and Isles of Scilly” was published in September, that indicated possible plans for the closure of community hospitals and cuts of over £200m in NHS spending in Cornwall.
Concerns have been raised that Cornwall’s unique geography and needs are going to be ignored in order to meet the shortfall in funding from the Government.
Andrew George set out his critique of the STP previously on CS (AG Statement) where he decribed the STP as “merely rearranging the deckchairs on a sinking ship”.
Mr George added “The STP is largely budget driven. It’s about attempting to get the public to sign up to the cutting of NHS services and putting them under even more severe strain than they are already.
“The consultation process is cynically limited and overly stage-managed. The Plan itself is couched in such motherhood and apple pie terms it would not provide a justification for any serious decisions of the type we know managers want local people to take.
“The process cannot be stopped because the Conservative Government has decreed that local areas must decide how they want to cut their services. Of course I am prepared to act responsibly and do all I can to make the project as ‘less bad’ as I can because there’s no serious chance that the Plan can be rejected.”
Campaign group “Keep Our NHS Public, Cornwall” are urging people to go along to their local meeting and have their say.
In a official statement they claimed:
“Now that the chancellor has refused to allocate more money to either social care or the NHS the ideas in the STP look less and less realistic. Unless we know where the money and increased staff will come from, the plan seems deeply flawed and is no more than an idealised wish list. The whole plan is driven by the need to make drastic cost savings of £279 million. That is a shame – because the STP contains many proposals nobody could disagree with, for example:
- Proposals to integrate services and to prioritise public health initiatives to improve health and wellbeing;
- proposals to pool budgets, to reduce the number of providers and to simplify the commissioning process by reducing the need for competition;
The trouble is that without funding the only place money can be found to develop or improver services will be by cutting existing services or closing NHS sites and selling the land.
We need to ask:
- How will savings of £264 million be made?
- Where the money for prevention and public health will be found?
- How many Community Hospitals will be closed?
- Who will provide the additional care in the community?
- Where will the 3 Urgent Care Centres that replace the 14 Minor Injuries Units be located?
- How will people with mental health problems be better supported?
- What is the risk that Cornwall will be unable to recruit, retain and retrain enough staff?
We need to say:
- No changes to local services until and unless there is increased funding for social care and the NHS
- No cuts to services or hospital beds without robust alternatives in place first.
- No increase in travel times for routine services.
- No loss of emergency services at Treliske.
- No down grading of staff terms and conditions.
- No outsourcing and privatisation of NHS services
( email@example.com )
Community events – January 2017
You can give your views in person by attending one of the community events in January 2017 where you will have the opportunity to find out more about proposals and ask questions:
- Monday, 9 January 3:00 – 4:30pm: Bude Parkhouse Centre
- Tuesday, 10 January 7:00 – 8:30pm: St John’s Hall, Penzance
- Thursday, 12 January 10:30 – 12noon: Wesleyan Chapel, St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly
- Thursday, 12 January 3:00 – 4:30pm: Bodmin Shire House Suite
- Monday, 16 January 3:00 – 4:30pm: National Maritime Museum, Falmouth
- Monday, 16 January 7:00 – 8:30pm: St Austell Print Company Conference Centre
- Tuesda,y 17 January 3:00 – 4:30pm: Liskeard Public Rooms
- Wednesday, 18 January 3:00 – 4:30pm: Truro Health and Wellbeing Centre
- Thursday, 19 January 7:00 – 8:30pm: Heartlands
Please register in advance to guarantee a place at the event and ensure a place. For more information and to register to attend please contact KCCG.Engagement@nhs.net or phone 01726 627897.
If you are a member of a community group or organisation and would like a representative from the Sustainability and Transformation Team to join one of your meetings to provide a briefing and hear your views please contact using the details above.
In East Cornwall, a public meeting has been called for Tues evening (10th Jan) in Liskeard. Spokesperson Leah Browning said “Local people & activists are passionate about retaining a fully functioning, publicly owned NHS. Ahead of local consultations on the STP we will be meeting to discuss what that means on a local & national level & what we can do. Equipping people with some knowledge, questions & a co-ordinated community response”. Hosted by South East Cornwall People’s Assembly Against Austerity the meeting is at Liskerret Community Centre at 6-7pm.