Reading Borough Council today (Nov 16) becomes the latest local authority to publish the NHS’s Draft Local Sustainable Transformation Plan for its area
The Council has taken the decision 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 to NHS spending across Bucks, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West is outlined in the draft document, which was last month submitted to NHS England for consideration. It can be found at www.reading.gov.uk/stp.
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 play in providing adult social care services. Whilst acknowledging the need for NHS efficiency savings, the Councillors are clear this can only be successfully achieved by a system-wide transformation of all health services, including primary care / GP services and local authority services.
Council Leader Jo Lovelock said:
“As a local authority representing residents who will be directly affected by these plans, we have serious reservations about a process in which a five year plan for local health services can be drawn up behind closed doors and without proper public, or indeed political scrutiny. The document itself contains a claim that the NHS has been working with Local Government on these proposals, but from Reading’s perspective that is certainly not true.
“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 today, and give local people and patients the opportunity to see the NHS proposals and comment.
“The lack of focus on the vital role played by adult social care services is of particular alarm. Sat alongside this is a proposed Governance structure which marginalises the role of local authorities to an extent where they become little more than interested observers. We will be making our views clear to the NHS and will refer on comments made by residents and patients as part of our own survey.”
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. This was followed up by a second motion on October 18th (*see notes) outlining the Council’s concern.
Commenting on the draft NHS document published today, 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. We need there to be a much clearer focus on the wider health and social care system, as well as local public health initiatives in places like Reading. Without proper acknowledgement or consideration of the vital role local authorities have to play, we remain to be convinced this is anything other than a crude cost-cutting exercise under the guise of transformation.
“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. At this stage however, it is not clear how policy decisions will be made, how those decisions could be challenged and what role the local councils and, more importantly, local residents will be permitted to play.
“If services are considered for relocation and residents are made to travel further to access health services, it is hard to see how those decisions can be properly debated. Savings targets appear to be determined by allocating percentage cuts against unrealistic timescales, but we know the health and financial benefits of preventative work can take a bit longer to realise.
“In its current form, the NHS five year plan for health services in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire is a missed opportunity. We want to prompt greater public scrutiny by residents and patients. As the provider and commissioner of social care services in Reading we would also welcome the opportunity to properly engage in this very important process.”
Reading residents can access the NHS’s Draft Local Sustainable Transformation Plan and Reading Borough Council’s survey at www.reading.gov.uk/stp.
Notes for Editors:
• A total of 44 regional bodies have been created across the country to deliver Local Sustainable Transformation Plans for their area
• Councillor Hoskin’s full motion to Council at October 18th can be found at: http://www.reading.gov.uk/media/6170/item12-STP-WEB/pdf/item12-STP-WEB.pdf
• A new survey by the County Councils Network (CCN) found 77% of county adult social care directors do not believe their local sustainability and transformation plan (STP) will deliver sustainable care. 58% said their local authority had been actively involved in the development of their STP: http://www.countycouncilsnetwork.org.uk/news/2016/nov/care-funding-cuts-lead-terminal-impact-services-hold-back-health-integration-report-warns/
• The Local Government Association this month published its ‘2016 State of the Nation Report’ which found councils are still coping with the effects of a £5bn funding gap in adult social care between 2011-12 and 2015-16: http://www.local.gov.uk/documents/10180/7632544/1+24+ASCF+state+of+the+nation+2016_WEB.pdf/e5943f2d-4dbd-41a8-b73e-da0c7209ec12