Thousands of hospital beds are set to be lost, pregnant women will face long trips to give birth and a string of accident and emergency units will be closed or downgraded as part of controversial plans for the NHS as a result of yet more reorganisation of the country’s health services.
Proposals have been developed in locally agreed Sustainability and Transformation Plans. These are currently being analysed by NHS campaigners and already show that health chefs are set to push through an unprecedented centralisation of hospital services across England.
This could mean reducing the number of A&E hospitals from 140 to less than 70 across England and cutting hospital beds – while hoping that care in the community will pick up the slack. The plans also include selling off land and assets that belong to the NHS.
Critics have argued that whilst the plans may include some good ideas, the overall programme is unrealistic about funding and includes untested assumptions.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth Labour Leader, has written to health decision-makers sharing concerns and asking questions about any proposals locally.
Portsmouth’s health services are included in a Hampshire and Isle of Wight Sustainability and Transformation Plan which is due to be published next week. The document covers a range of health and care services spanning eight clinical commissioning groups and providing for an estimated population of two million people.
Cllr Morgan said:
“Under the Tories our NHS is underfunded and understaffed. We’re seeing the worst NHS deficits on record at £2.45 billion. Around 3.9 million people are now on the English waiting list to start treatment and 1.8 million people waited four or more hours in A&E last year – up over 400 per cent since 2010.
One in four patients have to wait a week or more to see or speak to a GP or nurse, or don’t get an appointment at all
Our country already has the second lowest number of hospital beds per head in Europe. We simply cannot afford to lose any more.
With recent changes in health services in our city we’re already seeing people needing to travel further to access the care they need. Labour created the NHS to care for us all, now it’s time to care for the NHS.
Portsmouth Labour will be talking with local people at different locations across the city next Saturday, 26 November on an NHS community action day.