Barnet's Labour councillors slam secret cuts plan for North Central London NHS

Barnet's Labour councillors have slammed a secret cuts plan for North Central London NHS uncovered by The Guardian which could mean patients in Barnet waiting even longer for operations, patients being denied access to an increased number of treatments, cuts to financial support for patients with serious, long term conditions including brain damage, downgrading or closure of hospital units and doctors spending less on drugs.

The 31 page internal NHS document leaked to The Guardian outlines the choices they believe need to be made to plug the £183.1m budget gap across the 10 NHS trusts in North Central London, spanning the five boroughs of Barnet, Camden, Haringey, Enfield and Islington.

Clinicians and NHS staff have expressed deep concern, with the Royal College of Surgeons calling the changes "devastating" to healthcare provision.

Barnet Labour is calling for an immediate halt to the implementation of these plans until a full consultation can take place and residents' views can be heard and the plans can be properly scrutinised and debated in public.

Labour's Health Spokesperson, Cllr Phil Cohen will be raising the issue in a member's item (see notes below) at the next Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee on 3 July.

Cllr Phil Cohen said: "The proposed cuts to our NHS detailed in this secret plan are driven entirely by the Government's austerity agenda and not clinical need. They will without doubt lead to great suffering and harm to patients, who will have to wait longer for fewer procedures and not receive the follow-up care they need. The NHS is already under extreme pressure and such draconian measures would put at risk the very principles on which it was founded, namely equity, fairness and compassion. The Tories in Barnet have gone along with the Government's financial squeeze on the NHS and I call on them to oppose these cuts and listen to residents' views on the impact they would have on our communities."

Ends.
Notes:

1. A link to The Guardian article: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jun/20/leak-shows-devastating-impact-of-planned-nhs-cuts-in-london

2. Text of Cllr Cohen's Member's Item to the 3 July Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee (HOSC):

HOSC, 3 July
Member's Item: Cllr Phil Cohen
'Capped expenditure process' for North Central London NHS 
 
A Guardian article on 20 June reports on a leaked 31 page internal NHS document outlining measures to plug the NCL budget gap of £183.1m which include:
 
- Extending referral to treatment waiting times so patients have to wait longer than the current maximum 18 weeks for planned operations
- Denying patients access to an increased number of  “procedures of low clinical effectiveness” (POLCE)
Downgrading or closing hospital units
Cutting £2m to the financial support for patients with serious, long-term medical problems and disabilities under the Continuing Healthcare scheme, including people with brain damage.
- Further limiting treatment to patients with back pain and other musculo-skeletal conditions
- Reducing NHS trusts' financial contribution to the Better Care Fund
Job cuts in the 10 Trusts including Barnet
 
The Royal College of Surgeons says the impact these measures will have will be "devastating" - and will cost more in the long run.

NHS Providers have called the plans "neither realistic nor reasonable" and say they should not be implemented without full and proper debate.

These proposals stem from the Government’s financial squeeze on the NHS, which puts the responsibility on local NHS managers to find massive savings. It also threatens the ability of the NHS to meet people’s healthcare needs. It is hard to see how the Government’s Sustainability and Transformation (STP) plans can be implemented when the NHS is pre-occupied with making financial cuts of this kind.

These plans will have a knock-on effect on social care and will not help the integration of health and social care.
The plans will also impact on our Mental Health Trust which has a large financial deficit already at a time when the need for mental health services in Barnet is significantly higher than other areas.
 
We need to be told how these measures will affect our residents, and therefore I request that:
 
- HOSC invites both NCL commissioners and providers to come to the Committee and explain what the impact of these plans will be, and
- That following that Committee meeting, LB Barnet hosts a day of public engagement on these plans to include patient groups, NCL commissioners and providers so that full and proper debate on these plans can take place.
 
For more information contact cllr.p.cohen@barnet.gov.uk

To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568


 

 
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