Confusion as Top NHS Bosses Refuse to Underwrite NHS North West London Plans.
The controversial plans to restructure local hospitals and community health services have been given a red light.
Proposals and Request for £513 Million Funding
NHS Improvement, the NHS operational and financial regulator has rejected the NHS NW London ‘Strategic Outline Case’ for its ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ (SaHF) programme of changes.
North West London Health Bosses had requested £513 million for building work in ‘Outer’ North West London, an application at the heart of their plans for restructuring local NHS services. But the application has been refused.
The respected ‘Health Service Journal’ reported this decision on 1 November 2017, quoting a comment by an NHS Improvement executive member that ‘the numbers for activity reduction were not credible’. In other words, the plans by North West London NHS bosses to close hospital beds and replace them with community services just don’t add up, something local Councils and campaigners have been saying repeatedly.
Shaping a Healthier future – the Story so Far
In 2012 NHS North West London published its SaHF programme of changes and launched a public consultation. Members of the public were asked to choose one of five options. However, the consultation was widely criticised by members of the public and local politicians who believed that all of the options were unacceptable and were designed to set one part of the community against another.
Nevertheless NHS NWL started their programme of massive cost savings and reductions in the number of District General Hospitals, A&E units, staff, and Acute beds across five London Boroughs. It promised ‘world–class healthcare outside of hospital’ as a ‘replacement’ for District General Hospitals closure and local acute beds elimination.
Central Middlesex and Hammersmith Hospitals were downgraded in September 2014 with the closure of their A&E units. Unfortunately A&E performance across the region immediately plummeted and has never recovered.
The downgrading of Ealing Hospital began in 2015 with the closure of the Maternity Unit and continued in 2016 with the closure of Paediatrics and children’s A&E.
The ‘Sustainability & Transformation’ Plan
NHS NW London Sustainability & Transformation Plan (STP) was published in October 2016, at the same time as similar plans right across England. It turned out to be basically a version of the Shaping a Healthier Future Programme.
One respected healthcare activist and researcher has calculated that NHS NW London has spent some £70 million on management consultant advice on formulating and implementing the SaHF and STP changes over 5 years. However, the ‘final’ business plan was not actually published until December 2016.
Eric Leach, a researcher and committee member of Ealing Save Our NHS said:
“The 2012 Shaping a Healthier Future Programme and along with it the 2016 STP change programme are now in tatters. Now nobody knows what will happen next. It’s time local health bosses concentrated on supporting Ealing Hospital instead of finding ways to downgrade them. In our view the people in charge should resign, including the head of the SAHF and STP programmes and the chairs of the Clinical Commissioning Groups for Ealing, Brent, Central London, West London, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon and Hounslow.”
Although ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ was mainly driven by cost- cutting, it still needed a one off £500 million capital grant to build new clinics and without that, local health bosses have to go back to the drawing board.
Eve Turner, Secretary of Ealing Save Our NHS, added: “It is quite incredible that NHS NW London executives have been allowed to spend several tens of millions of pounds on consultants and plans for NHS service changes without an approved business plan. That money should have gone to nurses, doctors and consultants, instead of bureaucrats, spin doctors and management consultants.”
Ealing Save Our NHS
ESON is a non-Party Political group of local residents who have campaigned vigorously for the NHS as a fully funded, universal healthcare system. It has continuously challenged the lack of evidence to support the SaHF and STP changes by leafleting, demonstrations, public information stalls, street theatre, Freedom of Information requests, public speaking and supporting local, regional and national save the NHS campaigning groups.