Recently, I have received a lot of emails from people voicing concerns about healthcare funding. I know a lot of people have read about the sustainability and transformation plans in the media and are worried about the lack of transparency. This is a deeply important issue and we are right to be concerned about the lack of information.
We fought very hard to save Lewisham Hospital and the campaign attracted a lot of attention. This is something I would not hesitate to do again if the hospital came under threat in the future. However we hope it won’t come to that.
The South East London Sustainability and Transformation Plan has now been published online and you are able to access it here.
Some of the key headlines from the strategy include:
- ‘Better community based care including: extra £7.5 million a year to ensure that people in south east London can book a GP at a time that suits them – including more evening and weekend slots’
- ‘No closures of any A&E and maternity departments’
- ‘Better maternity care – dedicated midwives supporting mothers throughout pregnancy, better advice and choice on birth options’
- ‘Developing word-class orthopaedic services – fewer cancelled operations, shorter waiting times and more procedures carried out’
- ‘Faster cancer diagnosis – new £160 million purpose built cancer centres at Guy’s Hospital and £30 million centre at Queen Mary’s Sidcup, launch of dedicated oncology support phone line, dedicated clinical nurse specialists for all patients’
- ‘All the different parts of local health and care services working together to use available money and resources in the best way possible’
Plans are not final and we have been told proposals will continue to evolve. I will be monitoring and scrutinising any changes, making sure recommendations are not just about cost cutting or efficiency savings, but focused on improving and maintaining high standards of care.
While the proposals might seem positive, we will need to make sure the support is there for local authorities who will be relied on to ‘reshape social care services’ and ‘raise productivity’.
Across the country 9 out of 10 local authorities are unable to afford the cost of adult social care. They are in no position to take on extra costs from hospitals. Lewisham council has had their budget cut hugely since 2010, forced to make savings of £150m and next year the Tory Government will cut funding even further from £160m to £147m.
Further pressures on councils who are already struggling to pay for a fragmented and costly social care system would only add to the problems.
There are so many concerns with regards to the NHS and a lack of transparency is alarming. I will be making sure I keep an ear to the ground with regards to any plans involving our NHS and others under threat across the country. I will also be scrutinising the Health Secretary at any opportunity in the hopes of getting answers or information.