The Independent London Newspaper

Letters

 

LETTERS: We can fight the break up of the NHS

Published: 16 December, 2016

• THE shadowy and murky Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for leaving the NHS is being rushed towards the cliff edge before Christmas.  

A decision over the future existence of the NHS is being foisted on councils with no mandate, no funding, and no public awareness.

Councillors are being threatened that if they don’t sign up to take over many health services from our hospitals – without money, qualified staff or facilities to run them – they will be left out in the cold. The idea is to close, merge and downgrade many hospital services. 

It is well known that social services are breaking down. And that this is contributing to overwhelming pressure on the NHS, along with a rising tide of poverty, unaddressed public health issues, and loss of community support services.  

Councils can barely run any public services. So how is handing over health services to councils the obvious solution to our NHS crisis?  

The STP admits from the start it has no funding. And why the rush to sign off on the STP before Christmas? All the indications are that STPs are, in effect, an NHS exit plan and politicians dare not tell the public. Hence the hidden origins, jargon, unreality and unseemly haste.  

In whose hands will this hot potato end up? 

There has to be a full-scale properly informed, national debate in parliament and around the country about where all this is going. Otherwise we will wake up soon to find the NHS logo slapped on a different, and completely inadequate, health system.  

We need our council leaders and MPs to reject the STP madness and support the NHS.  

No other health care system in the world has matched its civilising and equitable ethos, or its efficiency, until the mega-changes of the last few years. The NHS was the best value for money – until the Health and Social Care Act 2012 blew it out of the water.  

In the unprecedented upheaval £billions of our NI tax contributions have been wasted on inefficient “restructuring”. Further tax £billions are spent each year on marketing and contracting in the NHS, with the most expensive international accountancy and management firms taking the bulk. These £billions are needed for patient care which has suffered. It is because of the dedication of the majority of staff that the NHS has clung on and delivered a lot of good care to millions of patients amid the unfolding tragic and historic crisis. The decline has been greatly exacerbated by big losses of funding in real terms. Not an accident but an emergency.

The STP “solution” would lead to an overall collapse in patient care. Doctors rather than politicians are the best placed to know about this and those with no vested interests who know about STPs are saying they won’t provide decent quality care. 

Residents, medical staff and patients are getting together to support and protect our local health services, hospitals and the NHS. Constructive alternatives to the STP do exist. The survival of the NHS depends on them.

The NHS is said to be our greatest and most-loved public institution. It deserves the best not the worst attention in deciding on its future existence. It’s worth a few words to your council leader and MP.  

SHARON LYTTON
Address supplied

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