Huge cuts to NHS services across England proposed

National Health Service organisations across England are drawing up plans that could see cuts to services across the country, according to a report.

The campaigning website, 38 Degrees, said it has seen sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) which are proposing ward closures, cuts in bed numbers, and changes to accident and emergency and GP care in 44 areas.

Local health and social care leaders are drawing up the plans, but many remain unpublished, according to the 38 Degrees.

Former chancellor George Osborne and NHS England head Simon Stevens asked the NHS to find potential savings to meet financial targets.

Although spending on the health service will increase by £10 billion by 2020, the NHS has been asked to make efficiency savings of around £22 billion by 2020.

The information shows the largest deficits are predicted in Greater Manchester (£2 billion). North West London and South East London areas predicting shortfalls of £1.04 billion and £1.015 billion respectively, by 2021.

38 Degrees uncovered the plans as part of a crowdfunded investigation into NHS cutbacks. Health policy experts Incisive Health reviewed all publicly available documents on Sustainability and Transformation Plans. It also received a detailed leaked plan for one area from a confidential source.

Examples of cost-saving measures include:

  • Closure or downgrading of some A&E units and other services,

  • Reductions in the number of hospital beds

  • Reducing growth in staffing costs and consolidating back office functions

  • Reducing estate costs and disposing of surplus land.

Many of the plans also argue that changes will enable improvements in service quality. Under the proposals, NHS services are divided into regional “footprints”, which will set and focus on their own priorities.

But 38 Degrees said that reducing the NHS deficit is an “overriding priority”, with changes proposed that are likely to be controversial for politicians and the public.

In a statement, NHS England said service leaders are “working together for the first time on shared plans to transform health and care in the communities in the communities they serve.”

They are agreeing how to “spend increasing investment as the NHS expands over the next few years.”

All proposals are at draft stage and NHS England said it expects leaders to consult with the public on the proposals.

A spokesperson said : “No changes to the services people currently receive will be made without local engagement and, where required, consultation. There are longstanding assurance processes in place to make sure this happens.”

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