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RCN says NHS plans could see cuts to hospital beds and community services

Plans to transform the NHS in England could lead to cuts in hospital beds and community services, leading nurses have warned.
Tom Sandford

Plans to transform the NHS in England could lead to cuts in hospital beds and community services, leading nurses have warned

The RCN said proper funding for the implementation of sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) was essential for making sure the strategies 'solve instead of exacerbate' problems in the healthcare system.

The comments come as new analysis by the British Medical Association (BMA) concluded there is 'nowhere near enough' funding to deliver on plans to change the way health is delivered in 44 areas of England.

Upfront funding

BMA Freedom of Information requests revealed the NHS in England needs at least 9.5 billion of capital funding to deliver the proposed STPs.

Responses from 37 of the 44 footprint areas found that more than half have told NHS England they would need more than 100 million of upfront funding to make changes.

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Plans to transform the NHS in England could lead to cuts in hospital beds and community services, leading nurses have warned

The RCN said proper funding for the implementation of sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) was essential for making sure the strategies 'solve instead of exacerbate' problems in the healthcare system.

The comments come as new analysis by the British Medical Association (BMA) concluded there is 'nowhere near enough' funding to deliver on plans to change the way health is delivered in 44 areas of England.

Upfront funding

BMA Freedom of Information requests revealed the NHS in England needs at least £9.5 billion of capital funding to deliver the proposed STPs.

Responses from 37 of the 44 footprint areas found that more than half have told NHS England they would need more than £100 million of upfront funding to make changes.

A handful quoted capital needs of more than £500 million.

Tom Sandford
Tom Sandford: 'Proper funding – and consultation – is key to making sure that STPs
solve instead of exacerbate the problems.' Picture: Barney Newman

RCN England director Tom Sandford said: ‘We have always supported the aims of the plans – preventing ill health, joining up services, delivering care closer to home.

‘But proper funding – and consultation – is key to making sure STPs solve instead of exacerbate the problems of England's health and care system.

‘We remain concerned these plans will be used to make savings, and short-term cuts to hospital beds and community services will be made without any plans for the long-term change envisaged by NHS England.

‘We hope this will be the final warning the government needs to act on what is now a health and care funding crisis, and the March budget reflects this new reality.’

'Nowhere near the funding required'

Figures released in October revealed the NHS is facing rapidly rising maintenance fees – with NHS facilities needing more than £2 billion to pay for outstanding ‘significant’ or ‘high risk’ repairs.

BMA chairman Mark Porter said: ‘The NHS is at breaking point and the STP process could have offered a chance to deal with some of the problems the NHS is facing, like unnecessary competition, expensive fragmentation and buildings and equipment often unfit for purpose, but there is clearly nowhere near the funding required to carry out these plans.’

An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘Rather than just commenting from the sidelines, local health and care leaders and clinicians are coming together to actually try and solve some deep-seated problems by identifying practical ways to improve services.

‘Yes, there are well-known pressures and constraints facing the NHS, but for patients' sake we should obviously all try and make the best of the situation, rather than just stand to one side and say: “Well, I wouldn't start from here”.’


Further information

STPs: It’s not too late to have a say in plans for your local services


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