Since we posted our story about “Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs): knowns and unknowns” at the beginning of June we do know a little more.
None of it is re-assuring and the questions and concerns we set out then remain entirely valid. When you appreciate that these plans are designed to cut local NHS budgets, fundamentally change the way GP services are delivered and bypass the decision-making arrangements put in place by the Health and Social Care Act 2012, you may wonder why there has been no public outcry.
Brent Patient Voice representatives had a full and frank discussion with Carolyn Downs, Brent Council’s Chief Executive, about the NW London STP on 1st June. An agreed record of the meeting is available from BPV. At Carloyn’s wish the note does not record all that was said in order not to prejudice ongoing negotiations.
While the 30 June deadline for submitting plans and agreeing them in final form appears to have slipped to October or November, there is no change in the determination of Simon Stevens, the NHS Chief, to keep them away from the public until they are in final form agreed by him. This is in blatant contradiction to the published guidance requiring public participation, as well as the normal statutory requirements. His representatives in Shropshire have even gone so far as to say that CCG Board members should not see them. Presumably councillors are in the same boat. The reasoning is that people might be alarmed!
BPV remains committed to promoting a public debate as soon as the NW London STP is in the public domain. Of greatest concern are plans to change dramatically the way in which primary care is delivered. We do know that the four GP networks to which nearly all Brent practices belong have formed a new company called Brent Care Ltd and have looked at such details as are on the Companies House record. The idea that such a company should provide all primary care services in Brent via a single contract with the CCG raises a host of legal and organizational questions, quite apart from what it might do to doctor-patient relations.