An important report published this week by Dr Sally Ruane, who works at De Montfort University’s Health Policy Research Unit, reaches to the heart of the matter of the farcical nature of NHS England’s approach to mismanaging our health services.
The report in question is a critical overview of NHS England’s so-called Sustainability and Transformation Plan for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland’s hospitals, and at a fundamental level the report does a brilliant job of exposing the thieving nature of the STP.
According to Dr Ruane, our regions STP — described by others as representing the Slash, Trash, and Privatisation of our NHS — will see £412 million stripped locally from our NHS services, a 5.7% reduction in staff, and a 12.9% reduction in hospital beds!
Focusing on just this latter proposed reduction in bed provision, we should recognise that the number of beds provided per 1,000 people in the UK is already low — at just 2.7 per 1,000 population.
“The most recent OECD study for hospital bed provision (2014) indicate an average of around 4.8 beds per 1,000 population among developed countries,” Dr Ruane writes. “It is unconvincing,” she consequently suggests, “to argue that cutting hospital beds will improve patient care and points to the finance driven character of the STP.”
Since the draft STP was published (reluctantly) by NHS England in November 2016, Dr Ruane highlights how the authors of the Plan have “refused” to publish the data upon which it is based.
“It is likely that these documents have been withheld from the public because they are either unconvincing or politically controversial or both,” she infers. This lack of transparency of course has the logical effect of “making effective scrutiny impossible.”
When interviewed by BBC East Midlands (March 13) about the detailed analysis contained in her report, Dr Ruane was explicit in her condemnation of the proposed community-based methodology that undergirds the STP:
“There is no robust body of academic evidence that suggests that by expanding community services, or by integrating services better in the community, that you achieve financial cash savings — in fact, one report described it as a myth.”
Little wonder that she comes to the stark conclusion that NHS England’s “Plan will result in less accessible and poorer quality care and will achieve neither improved health outcomes nor the financial savings it claims it will make.” If that is not a good enough reason for our local Council to reject the entire STP then I don’t know what would be!