Cornishman Article January 2017

A New Year, can we look forward to it with optimism?  Unfortunately, there is a spectre on the horizon called Cornwall’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) which is likely to dominate all aspects of our health and social care in 2017.

The mantra from government is that demand for health and social care is outstripping supply, which has led to the birth nationally of STPs, imposing strict financial controls on both health and local government organisations, insisting debt is reduced to zero whilst at the same time expecting wholesale change and integration of services.

Cornwall will be £264m in debt by 2020/21 if nothing is done and our STP, (which is similar to the other 43 plans), suggests making ‘efficiency’ savings to access national funds of nearly £100m, and claims savings of £24m on integrated community care and £22m on redesigning pathways of care can be made. There is however, very little evidence to support these ‘estimated savings’ and some evidence to suggest reorganisation actually costs more money. Indeed at a local STP presentation in November when asked whether the Cornwall’s STP could cost more to implement than existing services, a spokesperson admitted that it could.

 

At the heart of Cornwall’s STP are bed closures, changes to community hospital provision and replacement of the fourteen minor injury units with possibly three urgent care centres. Whilst at the same time it claims that “properly funded and staffed primary, community and social care is a must if we are to make the changes needed.”

It suggests that more GPs and community workers will be recruited because 20% of GPs and 31% of practice nurses are due to retire within 5 years. In adult social care the annual turnover of care workers is around 37%. The obvious question is where are all these staff going to come from?

A rather chilling statement in the plan says “fundamentally we must ask people to do more for themselves and support each other in the community. Personal and social responsibility must be at the heart of our health and social care reforms”. Could this be the answer? Family and friends are already being asked to fill in the gaps when a complete home care package cannot be found.

 

We at West Cornwall Health Watch have a very clear red line. There should be no reduction in services provided at West Cornwall Hospital and no change in bed provision from sub- acute to community.

We encourage all Cornishman readers to join us and make that red line your own. Attend the public meeting about Cornwall’s STP on Tuesday 10th January at 7pm in St John’s Hall, Penzance and make your voices loudly heard.

 

Jane Varker and Jan Williams 28/12/2016

Copyright to West Cornwall HealthWatch