NHS England preparing to slash services to plug funding gaps

The public have not been consulted on plans to reduce frontline services and close district hospitals

Fighting Lansley: The “Save Our NHS” rally in central London yesterday

 

Massive gaps in healthcare funding have forced NHS leaders across England to develop plans for service closures, according to a new investigation by the campaign organisation 38 Degrees.

The far-reaching plans encompass cuts to bed numbers, A&E departments and mental health units, as well as the closure of district hospitals.

Each of the 44 English NHS areas are drawing up Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs), with the goal of finding savings to plug the health service’s gaping deficits.

Although they will be signed off in October, many of the STPs are still secret and local communities and stakeholders do not appear to have been been consulted.

“These proposed cuts aren’t the fault of local NHS leaders,’ commented Laura Townshend, director of 38 Degrees.

“The health service is struggling to cope with growing black holes in NHS funding. These new revelations will be a test of Theresa May’s commitment to a fully-funded National Health Service.”

The investigation — crowdfunded by 38 Degrees members and conducted by health policy experts Incisive Health — reveals the following plans are already underway:

  • Dramatic reductions to frontline services at Midland Metropolitan Hospital in the Black Country, including closure of the A&E Department.
  • The closure of one of two district hospitals in the Black Country.
  • The close of one of three hospitals in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
  • Cuts to acute services in Suffolk and North East Essex, and closure of GP practices.
  • ‘Consolidation’ of hospitals and acute services in Dorset, creating a major threat to bed numbers.
  • Cuts to maternity services, community hospital services and mental health services in North and East Cumbria.
  • The closure of the equivalent to five wards in the Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust.

Most of the above services are facing funding gaps of between £158m and £800m in the coming years.

With NHS England facing its largest ever deficit— believed to be in excess of three billion — the Department of Health has attempted to disguise the scale of the problem using various accountancy tricks.

It’s believed that hospital bosses and NHS leaders have been pressured to participate in this fiddling with figures.

However, today’s revelations suggest that the crisis has reached a point where fiddling around the edges is no longer sufficient, so Jeremy Hunt is pushing for cuts.

Labour’s shadow health secretary, Diane Abbott, described the 38 Degrees analysis as ‘a damning indictment of this Government’s underfunding and mismanagement of the NHS.’

See also: NHS leaks prove Jeremy Hunt is wrong about everything

 

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