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NHS cuts ‘will hit the old and the poor hardest’, warn campaigners

Group's grim warning after analysing London NHS ‘sustainability’ plan

15 September, 2017 — By Tom Foot

Islington Keep Our NHS Public members with their cakes for NHS staff

NHS campaigners say their detailed research has uncovered how a massive shake-up of the health and social care system will hit Camden and Islington’s most vulnerable people and make older people “second class citizens”.

Islington Keep Our NHS Public has produced a report following a probe into the Sustainability Transformation Plan (STP) for north London. The STP is plan to reduce NHS and social care spending in five boroughs – including Camden and Islington – by between £900 million and £1.2billion each year.

It has been conceived by a range of hospital, council and NHS bosses from what is called the “north central London sector”.

Professor Sue Richards, the national chair of the campaign group, said her group had pored over reams of technical health policy documents to uncover answers to key questions about where the cuts will fall. “They do not make happy reading,” she said. “The cuts will fall most heavily on the vulnerable – frail older people, people on a low income, parents of children with mental health problems.”

She added: “Statements about improving the NHS by developing care closer to home, by integrating health and social care, and about helping us to stay healthier for longer are just a smokescreen behind which the worst cuts the NHS has known for decades are being introduced. And all of this is being done at breakneck speed, with virtually no public consultation and with most NHS staff left in the dark.”

According to the Keep Our NHS Public report, healthcare for older people will be downgraded with elderly having poorer access to A&E and properly qualified health staff and likely to be cared for by social services which will require them to “pay at the point of service”.

It added: “Older people are in fact to become second-class citizens.”

The report says the STP will fail to address health inequalities or bring “parity of esteem” between physical and mental health care. It warns that “substantial property assets” in Camden and Islington could lead to a “great sell-off offering profits to developers”.

The report warns of the impact of the Naylor Report – a controversial publication from former UCLH chief executive Sir Robert Naylor which recommends a huge sell-off of NHS land and assets across the country to boost dwindling health funding reserves. Keep Our NHS Public recommends that the entire process is “paused” and that proper health impact and equality impact assessments on the STP’s impact on the elderly are drawn up.

The report concludes: “Above all, decision-makers should ensure that revenue and capital are kept separate, and the NHS is not forced to cash in on the family silver in order to survive.”

The latest published draft of the STP says: “Our current system is unsustainable. The health and social care needs of our local people are changing and the way we are currently organised means that waiting times for some services, as well as the health outcomes vary. As our population ages, we now need to consider how people will receive care and what that care may look like. We believe there is the scope to provide more services closer to people’s homes. Working alongside local authorities, we can design and deliver the right care in the right setting so that everyone can live and age with dignity.”

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