Published: 3 November, 2016
By TOM FOOT
A SECRET study into what health and social care services will be funded in the future has been leaked – by the leader of Camden Council.
Town Hall leader Sarah Hayward this week took the unusual step of publishing a draft copy of the controversial Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) on the council’s website.
Senior executives from health bodies, hospitals and councils in five north London boroughs have for months been mapping out a controversial five-year plan behind closed doors.
The NHS had said it would not be making its report public for months but Cllr Hayward criticised the process which she said required greater public scrutiny and democratic accountability. “I have serious reservations about the Sustainability and Transformation Plan process so far. There has been no political oversight, and minimal public and patient engagement.”
The STPs are a national scheme where 44 regional bodies have been created across the country. Health, mental health and social services chiefs in these “footprints” have come together to find ways of doing more for less and showing how funding will be spent over the next five years.
According to the Department for Health, “the most compelling and credible STPs will secure funding from April 2017 onwards”.
In north central London the STP is headed-up by chief executive of the Royal Free Hospital David Sloman. It has said it is trying to plug a projected £876million black hole in finances by 2021.
The report says it aims to save £124million by investing in “care closer to home”.
The draft STP report is dense with NHS management terms and – disappointingly for some health campaigners – reveals little detail about specific services. But it admits “we face some really tough decisions” and “we need to resolve these questions between now and Christmas”.
It talks about moving more care into the community, which is far cheaper than allowing patients time to recover in hospital beds, as the report repeatedly makes clear.
“We are using hospital beds for people who could be cared for at home, or in alternative care settings,” the draft STP says, adding that 20 per cent of people in hospital beds are “medically fit to leave”.
The report suggests £6m could be saved by improving mental health outreach and another £98m could be saved by “increasing system productivity”.
Islington Council followed Camden’s lead this week in publishing the report on its website
Islington Town Hall leader Richard Watts said the local authority had been involved with the STP but was at the same time “not necessarily supportive of it”.
Despite the councils’ concerns, both Town Hall chief executives, Camden’s Mike Cooke and Islington’s Lesley Seary, sit on the STP committee, alongside Mr Sloman.