Hi all, Im an NHS campaigner who lives with lung disease, just migrated from the wonderful British Lung Foundation site. I notice that there are quite a few posts here complaining about NHS treatment. While I understand that sometimes things go wrong, this post is not about that - personally I have had nothing but excellent care from dedicated staff at all levels of the NHS. I would not be here but for them.
BUT I have no idea how these frontline staff who are increasingly demoralised are carrying on in the current climate of cuts and it will only get worse. There is plenty in the press about older GPs retiring, newly qualified ones emigrating as conditions here are so dire, nurse training bursaries being withdrawn, maternity, mental health and other vital services being cut or located far from the communities they serve. With fewer staff, patient appointments both at GP and consultant level have longer waiting times. Many hospitals are having to postpone elective surgery (hip replacements etc) as there are either insufficient beds, or insufficient surgeons. I could go on.
I would like to ask NHS England why on earth, under Simon Stevens, they have embarked on yet another top-down reorganisation of the NHS, namely the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs, otherwise known by NHS campaigners as Slash, Trash and Privatise). Under the STPs, the country is divided into 44 'footprints', and each area has to produce its own STP. Reading our STP is almost impossible due to the impenetrable PR speak in which it is written.
For those unfamiliar with the STPs, they have been designed to save NHS spending by £20 billion by the year 2020. This is simply not deliverable. While the plans put forward useful stuff like the importance of disease prevention, local community healthcare nearer to home, and the integration of health and social care, the unspoken flaw is that these are seen as cost cutting exercises when in reality they are hugely expensive, requiring new buildings, and more trained staff etc etc. The social care system needed to take discharged patients is on its knees. According to the BMA, to implement all the 44 STPs throughout England (and it is just England) will cost upward of £9 billion - and that's just to set them up.
No-one would argue against the development of better practice in the NHS but this costly reorganisation is not the way to go - improvements should be clinically driven, not driven by budgetary cuts. The NHS is already underfunded and just to carry on as it is at present, it needs not cuts but increased funding, and with regard to social care a massive investment both in more care home and more staff, so that patients ready for discharge and trapped through no fault of their own, can move on and free up much needed NHS beds. These are not cheap options.
So NHS England . . . a call to action?? In the current context what on earth does that mean? In hope of answers, O2Trees