Another STP admits to ‘serious reservations’ about process and plan
A sustainability and transformation plan (STP) footprint in the north of England has become the latest to publish its plan, which includes proposals to reconfigure acute hospital services – just as the leader of Hartlepool Borough Council wrote to NHS England about his doubts over the process.
The STP, covering Durham, Darlington, Tees, Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby (DDTHWR), is the latest to be published, after South West London, North Central London and Birmingham and Solihull.
Cllr Christopher Akers-Belcher, who is also chair of the Hartlepool Health and Wellbeing Board, revealed he had written to NHS England to suggest a meeting to discuss a number of concerns, especially the board’s lack of involvement with the plan.
He said: “I recognise there is a need to change and that services could be more efficient, but I do have serious reservations about the sustainability and transformation plan process so far and the plan which has been developed.
“We see first-hand the impact of the profound health inequalities that exist in Hartlepool and we want to ensure the plan improves services for the health and wellbeing of our residents. We are also keen to continue to work with the NHS to strengthen the focus on adult social care in the draft plan as it develops.”
He argued the STP had been published to ensure “full transparency”, which he felt had not “been demonstrated so far by NHS England”.
The draft STP involves designating two specialist emergency hospitals for the region: James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, and either Darlington Memorial Hospital or University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton on Tees.
The James Cook would run 24-hour consultant A&E services, while the other hospital would run 16-hour services. The A&E is likely to close at a hospital that hasn’t yet been chosen. A&E services could also be cut at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS FT.
A survey of CCG chairs and accountable officers found that 31% said their STPs were likely to lead to the closure or downgrading of A&E departments in the next 12-18 months, prompting the Royal College of Emergency Medicine to issue a stark warning that the closures would “put lives at risk”.
The DDTHWR footprint faces a £281m funding gap by 2021, representing 12.4% of its current NHS activity. It said it estimated the reconfiguration of acute services would save £110.7m.
Their plan proposed better work on early intervention and prevention, including improving engagement with patients with alcohol problems, integrating weight management and mental health services and improving services for children and families, to save an estimated £9.6m.
It also seeks to save £42.9m by transforming neighbourhood and community care, including introducing health and social care hubs covering 30,000-50,000 people, and embedding staff such as mental health counsellors and therapists, physician associates and clinical pharmacists in GP surgeries.
(Image c. Mick Garratt)
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