No information on NHS plans a ‘travesty of local democracy’

Jan Birtwell (left) of 38 Degrees handing over the petition to local candidates last year is one of three signatures  of a stinging open letter of Sustainability and Transformation Plans
Jan Birtwell (left) of 38 Degrees handing over the petition to local candidates last year is one of three signatures of a stinging open letter of Sustainability and Transformation Plans

The lack of information on plans that could see major changes to the NHS in West Sussex has been labelled a ‘travesty of local democracy’ by campaigners.

The Government have asked every health and care system in England to produce a Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) showing how local services will evolve and become sustainable over the next five years.

A draft STP was submitted to NHS England in June for the Sussex and East Surrey area, and the West Sussex Health and Wellbeing Board will be asked ‘to assure its influence and support for the final

iteration of the plan for submission’ at its next meeting tomorrow (Thursday October 13).

However no information or reports have been made publicly available and health campaigners have written an open letter to both the chairman of the board and the chairman of the West Sussex Health and Adult Social Care Committee (HASC).

Jan Birtwell, from Coastal West Sussex 38 degrees NHS Group, Zena Dodgson, of Crawley and District Keep Our NHS Public, and Margaret Guest, from Don’t Cut Us Out, said they were ‘frankly appalled’ after reading the board’s agenda.

They said: “So it appears you are being asked to provide assurance for a plan you haven’t seen, for which no written papers have been presented, for which there has been no public involvement and after you very clearly expressed a number of issues, doubts and concerns at the July 13th meeting. This seems a travesty of local democracy.

“For your reference the relevant part of the minutes are included below. Have all these points been resolved behind the scenes and if so why is there no paper attached to the agenda detailing this? If they haven’t been resolved do you feel a verbal update on Coastal Care/STP can sufficiently assure you that they have been taken on board?

“When the STP is finally made public will an extra HWB meeting be called to discuss this? The next scheduled meeting of Feb 2nd 2017 is after NHS England’s planned date for sign-off of contracts relating to the STP in December this year. Will the published STP be further scrutinised by HASC before December?”

The role of the Health and Wellbeing Board is to lead and adivce on work to improve the health and wellbeing of West Sussex residents through the development of improved and integrated health and social care services, and is made up of councillors, GPs, health and social care officials, and representatives of patients and the public

Board chairman, Christine Field, who is also deputy leader and cabinet member for community wellbeing at West Sussex County Council said: “This is an important meeting for us as this plan is highly significant for health services and local people. We will be hearing about how the draft plan is coming together ahead of it being submitted in late October.”

Members of West Sussex HASC, which scrutinises strategic issues affecting the whole of West Sussex, have been invited to attend the board meeting.

All meetings are open to the public to attend.

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