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Councillors refer Mid & South Essex STP to Sect of State

TCI Commentary:

The power of referral is one of the important checks and balances that Parliament has required before major changes to the NHS can be made. Last year five referrals were reviewed and the advice was published by the Secretary of State, a decrease of three from the year before. Will 2019 see an increase again as more NHS bodies move towards integrated services..?



THURROCK councillors who have now officially referred £118m plans to transform health care in the borough, and beyond, have been criticised…

Members of Thurrock’s health scrutiny committee met last Thursday and heard a referral letter, as well as several pieces of supporting evidence had been sent to health secretary Matt Hancock.

They have called for the review of the Mid and South Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) plans due to closure of Orsett Hospital and concerns about the way a public consultation was carried out.

However, Professor Mike Bewick, independent chair of the STP, wrote back a strongly-worded letter to the committee in response to their referral. In it, he says he is “unable to comprehend” the basis of the referral and he is “struggling to understand claims the proposals are not in the best interests of Thurrock residents”. The STP plans represent the biggest healthcare shake up in a generation and are aimed at simplifying care and reducing delays.

Under the plans for Thurrock, Orsett Hospital would close and be replaced by five health centres, which the STP has called “integrated medical centres”. The services provided by Orsett would be spread between these centres and operate in partnership with GPs, mental health services and psychiatric services. Despite objecting to the closure of Orsett, committee members said they were in support of the new medical centres and have previously questioned why the borough can’t have both.

Ian Wake, director of Public Health, told the committee at a December meeting: ‘Without the closure of Orsett Hospital, be under no illusion, the integrated hub model doesn’t stack financially – you cannot have both.” Councillor Victoria Holloway, who chairs the health scrutiny committee, said this was “extremely upsetting”.

Thurrock’s referral is expected to be considered alongside another made by Southend Council, who objected to the healthcare overhaul due to concerns over a new patient transfer model and the relocation of a specialist stroke unit.


This article originally appeared on Thurrock Gazette.

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