Millions will be affected by STP health service cuts, say doctors

A new analysis by the British Medical Association says millions of people could be affected by NHS cuts under regional efficiency plans, which have cost millions of pounds to set up.

Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) are part of the government’s drive to improve services while at the same time making the NHS more efficient under the Five Year Forward View to improve services.

The doctors’ union is holding its annual conference in Bournemouth this week and a new analysis found the salary bill for new health managers delivering the plans is £8.5 million.

A further £1.1 was spent on consultancy firms and agency staff to set up the STPs, the BMA said.

At the same time a separate analysis by the BMA showed 17.6 million patients could be affected by acute and community hospitals closing or merging.

A&E units closing or downgrading could affect 22.9 million patients, 14.7 million patients could be affected by acute bed closures, and 6.6 million patients could be affected by community bed closures.

The BMA’s latest figures were gathered using Freedom of Information requests, revealing that more than 150 jobs, including operations managers, communications executives, administrators and financial analysts with combined salaries of at least £8.5 million have been created to deliver STPs.

And the BMA said the actual numbers are likely to be much higher, as only around half of the 44 STPs responded to its information request, and others were unable to give details of pay for some staff.

A further £1.1 million was spent on external firms and just five areas accounted for more than $5.5 million of spending.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough created 28 job roles at a cost of £893,000 annually, and Milton Keynes, Bedfordshire and Luton created 12 jobs at a cost of £920,000 annually.

North Central London created 19 job roles at a cost of £974,000, Leicestershire and Rutland created 22 job roles at a cost of £673,000 and North East London created 37 job roles at a cost of £2.3 million.

BMA council chair, Dr Mark Porter, said: “Millions of patients will be affected by hospital and bed closures under these so-called ‘transformation plans’, which are a cover for delivering £26bn in cuts to health and social care.”

“It makes no sense to spend this kind of money on staffing and structure when we already know there is a huge shortfall in capital funding needed to actually put the plans in place. Any money spent here runs the risk of being completely wasted.”

An NHS England spokesperson said STP areas may decide where they may need support or advice from external organisations such as consultancies.

While all STPs need to be disciplined about keeping costs as low as possible as they work to alleviate pressures on the NHS, they also need to attract and retain the highest calibre staff, the spokesperson added in a statement.

The spokesperson said: “Rather than just commenting from the sidelines, local health and care leaders and clinicians are coming together to actually try and solve some deep-seated problems by identifying practical ways to improve services.”

Don't miss your daily pharmaphorum news.
SUBSCRIBE free here.