The Independent London Newspaper
18th August 2017

NEW JOURNAL COMMENT: Warning: STPs could seriously damage your health sevice

    Town Hall leader Sarah Hayward

    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

    Published: 3 November, 2016

    ONE of the deep mysteries of  public life is the muted reaction to the various threatening measures being taken against the very existence of the National Health Service.

    Though the Coalition government pledged it would not introduce top-down, far-reaching reforms it did exactly that.

    Now, Mrs May’s government is introducing another piece of serious surgery under the bland heading, the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP)

    It is difficult to describe the ramifications in detail because, say critics, a great deal of the actual “planning” is informal and secret and is not – astonishingly enough – subject to scrutiny by Parliament.

    One can imagine the high risk of poor policy-making in such a secretive atmosphere.

    In reality, the advocates of STP claim its introduction will lead to better planned and more efficient medical services.

    The critics say this is a cover for a manoeuvre to run the NHS with less money and one with a much smaller budget which is coming down the line by the early 2020s.

    A protest meeting organised by the British Medical Association filled City Hall on Monday and dire warnings were made by doctors about the future of hospitals in London.

    Once again plans are afoot to centralise medical services under the guise of more efficient planning.

    Looking at the A&E service in north London all the signs are that, if the STP were to go ahead, there will be an attempt to close down the casualty at the Whittington Hospital.

    An attempt to do this six years ago brought down the wrath of the general public, and the plan was shelved. A more intense public campaign will be required this time if the new plan is to be thwarted.

    Yet the public seems hardly aware of this latest machination of our governing circles. 

    Largely to blame is the mainstream media which appears to be either uninterested, bored or even – subconsciously at least – sympathetic to STPs.  

    The result is that there is little or no publicity given to the STP although it is only a matter of months before it is introduced. 

    The British Medical Association has this week passed a motion calling on the NHS to boycott the negotiations. The warning by the doctors at City Hall on Monday night should be heeded.  

    Time is running out for the NHS. The NHS remains a unique social reform born in a revolutionary moment of British history. Now, more than ever, it need defending.