The plans may still be fantasy: but NHS cuts are starting to get real

THERESA MAY’S government is stepping up George Osborne’s programme of relentless real-terms reductions to NHS spending to reverse Labour’s decade of expansion. And NHS chiefs are raising the pressure on hospital trusts, GPs and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), demanding concrete plans for cuts to tackle monster deficits.

The Health & Social Care Act of 2012 made clear that the secretary of state has no duty to provide health services, so the cuts and privatisation that are taking shape are being done by “remote control,” through Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, under the approving eye of Jeremy Hunt.

This is why since Christmas, Stevens and NHS England have carved England into 44 “footprint” areas in which the “local health economy” of NHS trusts, CCGs and local authorities are required to work together rather than compete.

However this is no enlightened reintegration to scrap the competitive market. It’s a desperate effort to cut the deficit, balance the books and “transform” services — collaborating in secret to develop Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs), which must all be vetted, and may be changed, by NHS England.

It’s NHS England’s way of asserting central control, to speed the implementation of the policies outlined in Stevens’s Five Year Forward View. Alongside the rapid development in each “footprint” of five-year plans to bring the NHS back within budget, more tangible, painful cuts are already taking shape.


Full story in The Morning Star 11 August 2016