NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens has announced major changes to the NHS, a Five-Year Forward View, which inexplicably fails to mention the STPs (Sustainability and Transformation Plans) the other major plans for reshaping and cutting spending on the NHS, plans which are being worked on locally right now.
The STPs ﬁrst. The government has become impatient that local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) haven’t cut the NHS quickly enough. Trusts, the CCGs and local authorities (15 bodies in all) have been told to cut, or, as the government puts it, transform.
The logic, if there is any, is to get people to become healthier, to replace hospital with ”out of hospital” treatment and more integrated social care, to amalgamate services and close others, including GP surgeries. Nothing is ruled out.
In reality these plans have been hurriedly cobbled together by a few bureaucrats who will do anything they are told and still try to hoodwink us into thinking that cuts are improvements. It will cause chaos in a service already near the point of collapse. Privatisation, the Tories hidden agenda, continues to advance.
The Simon Stevens plan, the Five Year Forward View, rests on the abandonment of the 18 week target for ”non-urgent” operations. Some will not get surgery at all as postponement only creates a temporary saving. Effective pay cuts for staff will continue. It is, in fact, a desperate attempt to save hospitals before they are totally overwhelmed. It includes the recreation of minor injuries units (although not many of them), the stationing of GPs in A&E departments to ﬁlter out patients, the extending of GPs’ hours to cover evening and weekends, the rationing of referrals to hospital, finding places for patients stuck in hospitals with nowhere to go, improvements to cancer care and mental health provision and health care and social services working together. Although Mr Stevens has said in the past that the NHS does not have the funds it needs and that the Tory claims about funding are incorrect he refused to discuss funding when introducing these changes. Leading health professionals have said it for him. There are neither the funds to pay for nor the personnel available to staff these services. Just where are all these doctors? The NHS does not need more upheaval. It needs more funds and more staff. Then improvements can be implemented in a measured way.
Who Is Simon Stevens?
Simon Stevens was recruited as Chief Executive of the NHS from his post at the head of a private US heath care corporation UnitedHealth. His previous work included being adviser to Labour health ministers including arch careerist Alan Milburn, now employed by private health care players including Bridgepoint Capital, PwC and Lloyds Pharmacy, as well as Tony Blair. His stint saw increasing privatisation, the ruinous PFI funding of hospitals and the creation of Foundation Trusts, semicommercial bodies which run most NHS hospitals.