Thursday, 30 October 2014

NHS England's new 5-year plan announced

New NHS boss Simon Stevens made headlines today presenting NHS England's latest 5-year plan. The plan is clearly based in part on the experiments on North West Londoners under the banner of "Shaping a Healthier Future". So we've become accustomed to promises of more care in the community, integrated care, acute specialisms - aspirations in themselves as uncontroversial as apple pie. 

The real issue is about resources - and it's certainly welcome to hear a clear call from Mr Stevens for extra billions on NHS spending which is non-negotiable if it is to survive. However, the idea that £22 billion can be "saved" by greater productivity within the NHS seems laughable to any health worker - as one CX nurse said "How much more blood can be squeezed out of a stone?" Stevens fails to explain how increasing privatisation and fragmentation can improve efficiency and conveniently ignores the massive drop in social services' budgets that will limit the capacity of any integrated care scheme to deliver genuinely good care in the community.

Doubts about the consequences of SaHF changes and future plans are spreading.  In a significant change of emphasis HealthWatch's new position statement reflects a much more critical assessment of the current state of "Shaping a Healthier Future". In particular it supports calls for a moratorium on further cuts and closures until there has been some genuine consultation and improvement in community alternatives. Both the HealthWatch statement and the CCG response (same old platitudes there, I'm afraid) are attached. It's a very positive development to have HealthWatch, a mainstream local health organisation, raising similar concerns to SOH.

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