The Cambridge People's Assembly supports the statement against the NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) issued by the recent Health Campaigns Together conference in Birmingham. It is vital that the NHS is sustainable – not least as a matter of justice between generations – but the STPs are designed to make sustainable its underfunding.
The draft STP for the North-West London 'footprint' (29 of 44 draft STPs have so far been published, the plan for the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough footprint not among them) shows that to do so means, in the words of the conference statement,
closing hospitals, centralizing services, squeezing more 'productivity' from already hard-pressed hospital staff, [making] redundancies, and dumping more unpaid tasks onto GPs and primary care services, as well as onto family carers, overwhelmingly women.
This is to happen alongside the introduction of new models of out-of-hospital care, which the marketizing reforms of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 ensure will lay the NHS open to faster colonization by private capital. To use again the words of the conference statement:
We do not oppose genuine integration of health and social care but reject any moves towards ... replacing highly-trained professional staff with fewer, cheaper, lower-skilled staff, or the contracting-out or privatization of healthcare provision.
Against such unwanted transformation, we echo the Birmingham conference's calls for
- the immediate publication of all 44 draft STPs and a full public consultation on their proposals;
- the refusal by councils to sign up to STPs, as already done in Ealing and in Hammersmith and Fulham, until a satisfactory conclusion to a public consultation;
- the restoration of the real (inflation-adjusted) budget for the NHS, funded by progressive taxation;
- the full implementation of the NHS Reinstatement Bill to do away with the purchaser–provider split and the internal markets in our NHS; and thus
- the reinstatement of a universal, publicly funded, publicly owned, publicly provided and publicly accountable health service with the resources it needs.
We will co-operate with Cambridge Keep Our NHS Public, Hands Off Hinchingbrooke, other activist and community groups, and local trade unions to challenge the STPs, and to campaign for an NHS that is truly sustainable.
Cambridge People's Assembly
8 November 2016