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Essex NHS changes referred to Ministers – will other STPs face similar challenges?

TCI Commentary:

The idea behind Sustainability & Transformation Partnerships (apart from trying our patience on jargon and acronyms!) was to force the NHS and local government to work together to find good solutions. Combining the expertise of the Health Service with the local accountability of Councillors should, arguably make it easier to persuade anxious residents that unpopular changes to their cherished services were well-considered and able to produce better outcomes.

Well it hasn’t happened yet in Southend. As this story shows, local politicians seems far from convinced that they had the right amount of involvement in the development and consideration of proposals to centralise some important services in Basildon. No doubt this will be disputed by local CCGs and Hospital Trusts who have to observe a very visible process to make these contentious decisions. Indeed, you can go online and see the decision-making committee of CCGs approving these decisions, and, we suspect that they would be able to show that these proposals were indeed considered along with alternative options. It will probably fall to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel to determine whether this process was adequate.

So why do we have so many Health Overview & Scrutiny Committees unhappy with their local STP plans. Are they just trigger happy? Or does the integration of Health & Social Care face barriers which we are still to overcome.



SOUTHEND Hospital as the base for a specialist stroke service was never considered during a public consultation, it has been revealed.

Borough councillors have now formally referred plans to create specialist centres in the three Essex hospitals back to the Secretary of State – the plans include a hyper-acute stroke treatment and rehabilitation unit at Basildon.

In its letter to Matt Hancock MP Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the people scrutiny committee said it was concerned over the “adequacy” of a public consultation on the Mid and South Essex Sustainability and Transformation and Partnership plans, which will now be put on hold.

It said: “Due to the fact that no options were consulted upon during the public consultation there is no evidence to suggest that Southend Hospital, as an option to locate a specialist stroke service, was considered”.

In a scathing, list of concerns, the committee said the “Your Care in the Best Place” public consultation had reached “only a small fraction of the population”. It added decisions made following the consultation had not been backed up with evidence requested repeatedly by councillors.

The partnership proposes providing a number of specialist services across Southend, Basildon and Broomfield Hospital, with Basildon hosting the majority, including complex cardiology, respiratory and vascular services. It is hoped the plans will streamline services – and stem a financial black hole.

The council said it “fully recognised” complex challenges in healthcare and acknowledged some of the proposals would benefit Southend residents, including a £40million investment in Southend Hospital.

However, it added: “There is an established stroke service infrastructure in Southend. The council is of the opinion that the established infrastructure has not been considered in the development of the STP proposals.

“The demand for stroke services and occurrence of stroke in Southend does not support the relocation of a specialist stroke rehabilitation service away from Southend Hospital.”

The council said: “There has been a perceived lack of clarity regarding both the decision making process and evidence to support decisions led by the clinical commissioning group joint committee, which has manifested itself through inconsistency in accountability, disagreement from clinicians regarding the proposals, and inconsistent communications from both the joint committee and the hospitals.”

Little information was provided on a discharge and repatriation procedure for patients along with workforce, investment and implementation of the far-reaching plans.

The committee added: “Despite numerous offers from the council to support and develop, in partnership, alternative options for consideration the process of public consultation presented the proposals as the only option for consideration. There were no other options upon which the joint committee consulted.”


This article originally appeared on Echo

The Institute cannot confirm the accuracy of this story or confirm that it presents a balanced view. If you feel this is inaccurate we would welcome your perspective and evidence that this is the case.

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