Local Kingston and Surbition CLP member Liz Meerabeau (above, right) was part of a local Labour Party contingent that attended a Health Care Forum as part of a consultation to proposed changes to health services and summarises the meeting:
"On 8th February Kingston & Surbiton Labour attended a Health and Care Forum held as part of the consultation for the STP (Sustainability Transformation Plan) that will change the way the health service operates in South West London. Much of what is proposed is sensible - but we have been discussing these ideas for many years, and the situation is getting worse. We have an ageing population, and cost pressures from advances in technologies and new medicines. Controlling costs is OK, but underlying the STP is a plan to cut funding - which isn’t being publicised.
Nationally, up to two thirds of the patients stuck in hospital because they can’t get sufficient support at home aren’t even counted in the official figures, according to the Nuffield Trust (8 February). And even the official figures show that 194,000 bed days were lost nationally in one month alone, because patients were ready to leave, but couldn’t get the support they needed.
So does Kingston council have the capacity to provide all the social care needed to prevent delayed transfer home? Local authority funding has been cut to the bone by this government and 80% of councils have just said they are unsure how they will manage (Local Government Information Unit). When will Theresa May listen and give local government the funding it needs?
And why was no-one from RBK or Your Healthcare invited to present at the Forum? Social and community care are key elements in whether this plan will work or not.
The thinnest aspect of the STP is how it will be staffed. Staff in the NHS are doing a fantastic job under difficult circumstances, but are getting fed up with minimal pay increases and criticism from Jeremy Hunt. The latest blow is removing the bursary from nursing students. Governments always cut nursing student numbers when they want to save money quickly- the Tories did 25 years ago, and it took years to get the system balanced again. And we won’t be able to rely on EU staff as we have been.
We will continue to scrutinise the plans and hold the government, the local NHS and Kingston council to account. Labour was by far the most well represented party at the event; a clear sign that we are the only party truly committed to protecting the local health service."