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‘Overwhelming scepticism’ among hospital doctors about health service plans

A union claimed proposals for Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships were moving ahead too quickly.

Three-quarters of hospital doctors have raised concerns that plans aimed at transforming the health service are being used to make cuts to the NHS, a new poll suggests.

The survey of 450 hospital consultants found 77% believe that Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STP) are “a measure to introduce cuts to the NHS”.

Only one in 20 felt they had sufficient involvement in the process of their local STPs.

STPs are being developed in 44 regions in England in a bid to revolutionise services while saving money. The controversial plans have earmarked service and ward closures and hospital bed reductions.

However, the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) said there was “overwhelming scepticism” among medical staff about the plans.

In a new report, it stated that “transformation on this scale requires, and merits, several years to develop processes and undertake consultation”.

However, health officials were ploughing ahead with the controversial plans “too fast”, the trade union said.

HCSA chief executive Eddie Saville said: “The overwhelming message from hospital doctors is that STPs, on the evidence so far, pose a fundamental threat to services. The process is too fast, too vague, underfunded and displaying the classic symptoms of policy failure.

“Despite this, there is still now an opportunity to turn things around. What we’re saying is let’s slow this process down, let’s pause for breath and really look at the resources required to avoid damaging service cuts.

“Proper clinical scrutiny must be hardwired into the process if we are to salvage the potential benefits of STPs – joined-up care and a positive transformation of services.

“HCSA’s recommendations hold the key to unlocking STPs’ potential in the long-term rather than seeing them become another damaging, failed and short-lived reorganisation.”

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