Councillor says Oxfordshire STP will ‘seriously damaged health of people’

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Members of local authorities are being put under increasing pressure to inspect and reject plans that would downgrade the Horton and other NHS services in the county.

The Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for Oxfordshire would also replace nine community hospitals with four unspecified ‘hubs’.

Dr Peter Fisher Headshot ENGNNL00120131118164643

Dr Peter Fisher Headshot ENGNNL00120131118164643

The STP, which seeks to cut £200m from Oxfordshire’s NHS budget by 2020-21, would mean care for all but one per cent experiencing a physical or mental ‘health crisis’ would be provided outside a hospital.

Serious concerns are now being voiced about the ability of primary care and district health services to deal with so many patients being discharged from hospital.

And doubt is growing among influential figures that the ‘savings’ would materialise.

Dr Peter Fisher, retired Horton consultant and Keep the Horton General Campaign member, said: “Already senior figures like Chris Hopson, head of NHS Providers and former Tory health secretaries Stephen Dorrell and Andrew Lansley (Coalition Health Secretary who designed the NHS reforms) are expressing doubts about STPs being deliverable.

“There are repeated media reports of problems caused already by bed shortages.”

Dr Fisher said claims last week that Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire West would form an American-style Accountable Care Organisation (ACO) were worrying.

He said: “It is important to find out as soon as possible what this ACO will mean here.

“Will it, as some suspect, include only those patients whose GPs are part of the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), thus barring those whose GPs are in neighbouring counties such as south Warwickshire, south Northants? I expect that would be of concern to our neighbouring MPs.

“A number of councils have refused to back their STPs.”

On Monday night Oxford City Council overwhelmingly adopted a motion put forward by Green councillor Craig Simmons calling for moves to rein in the STP project.

The motion included rejection of the suggestion there is a safe way to reduce current NHS provision by £200m (including a Horton downgrade) by 2020-21 and agrees to:

█ Ask Oxfordshire CCG to make the secret document public and publicise it widely

█ Ask the CCG to start a full, single consultation in January instead of phased consultations in January and May

█ Encourage the public to make their views known on services reductions

█ Invite county and district councils to work with the city to oppose any service cuts

█ Write to relevant government ministers to make them aware of this motion and to Oxford MPs asking for support.

Mr Simmons said: “The former head of NHS commissioning, Julia Simon, has denounced the STP process as ‘shameful, mad, ridiculous’ and the plans as ‘full of lies’.

His motion said the STP intends not only a downgrade of the Horton but to reduce nurse numbers and the training requirement for nurses.

“The only realistic way to stop these changes, which will seriously damage the health of the people, is for the people to learn what is being planned and to be able to respond vigorously.”