Labour pledges to halt emergency department closures and review STPs
Labour shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth promised a review of closures across the NHS and sustainability and transformation plans.
Labour has pledged to halt the closures of emergency departments and other services across hospitals in England if the party wins the general election
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said he would launch a review of proposed closures and suspend the sustainability and transformation plan (STP) programme.
He said a new body called NHS Excellence would review STPs and patients and local communities ‘will be involved at every stage’.
STPs cover 44 areas across England and are part of the NHS shared planning guidance to implement the Five Year Forward View attempting to improve efficiency and health outcomes by 2021.
The RCN has already voiced concerns about the way STPs are developed citing an ‘unnecessary lack of openness and transparency’ in many cases.
Mr Ashworth warned that threats of hospitals being closed, emergency services being ‘moved miles up the road’ and children’s wards being shut had caused ‘widespread concern and confusion’.
He said: ‘Labour will put the best interests of patients at the heart of our NHS, so I'm announcing we will halt planned closures to hospitals and other services.
‘We will have a moratorium on the STPs. We have listened to the hundreds of patients and campaigners up and down the country that have been pleading with the government to hear their concerns about their local services.’
He added: ‘What is more, these decisions have been decided behind closed doors with no genuine involvement of local people. It's a disgrace.
‘The public deserves better. My first job as secretary of state will be to review every single STP proposal looking at what's in the interest of quality of patient care.’
Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Norman Lamb said the purpose of the STP process was a good thing, but that it was ‘based on fantasy’ that there was enough money to deliver the vision when STPs would be ‘hundreds of millions of pounds short’.
He said: ‘Hospitals under the Conservatives will close because they are being starved of money, not for clinical reasons. That is a disgrace.’
Responding to Labour’s plans, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘This is just another nonsensical Jeremy Corbyn idea – last December his shadow health secretary backed these plans and Labour's 2015 manifesto said they would do the same thing.
‘These local plans are developed by local doctors and communities, backed by the top doctors and nurses of the NHS, and will improve patient care.
‘This is all underpinned by an extra £10 billion for the NHS, which we can only afford thanks to our strong economy.’
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