CONCERNS have been raised over a controversial report which would see healthcare transformed across Coventry and Warwickshire.
The Coventry and Warwickshire Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) is set to shape the future for patients at South Warwickshire Foundation Trust (SWFT), University Hospital Coventry (UHCW) and George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton.
Health chiefs have been told they must save £267million over five years, and their plans aim to save around £207 million towards that target.
They hope to cut costs by ‘helping patients to help themselves’, making care more community based and by introducing changes including moving stroke services from Warwick Hospital to a specialist unit at UHCW.
But the report has received mixed reactions from councillors, hospital trusts and patient groups.
SWFT – which runs Warwick, Leamington, Stratford and Shipston hospitals – say the changes have less impact on their patients than those in North Warwickshire and Coventry and is similar to their strategy to support community care.
Chief executive Glen Burley said: “Our hospital strategy is out of hospital development and this gives us a real opportunity to engage with the public and help them take more responsibility of their own health.
“We support the plans and look forward to taking it forward.”
But it seems the trust are on their own in support for the STP, with Warwickshire councillors at a recent meeting unanimously agreeing not to support the proposals.
They are even calling for a new chair instead of UHCW chief executive Andrew Hardy who is currently overseeing the process.
Coun Matt Western told the Observer: “I’m pleased that there was unanimous agreement not to support the STP as it stands as there is no detail, no specifics and the public deserves to know more.
“The STP has been developed in secrecy by a group headed by Andy Hardy and it is evident that many professional groups have not been involved in working on this. Warwickshire County Council has agreed that it inappropriate that he should be chairing the development group given his position and it is calling for an independent chair to be found with immediate effect.
“These huge £267million cuts are premised on a need to make massive savings as opposed to starting with the optimal design of a service.
“We will see Beeching-scale cuts across Warwickshire and the loss of departments in our hospitals despite all the government says. It is critical that the public is aware that ultimately it will lose its universal NHS through these cuts.”
This notion has been supported by campaign group South Warwickshire Keep Our NHS Public (SWKONP) and Coun Jonathan Chilvers.
Coun Chilvers said: “The STP is dangerous gobbledigook which hides plans to move services to Coventry University Hospital and drain money away from the NHS.
“I call on Andrew Hardy the University Hopsital Chief exec to step down from chairing the STP straight away so we can go back to the drawing board and come up with a fully funded plan for our NHS which says what it means and people can support.”
And chair of SWKONP Anna Pollert said: “SWKONP applauds the wise and timely decision of Warwickshire County Council declining to sign up to the published Five Year Sustainability and Transformation Plan for Coventry and Warwickshire. We welcome the Council’s setting requirements prior to further consideration, including full public engagement, using plain language, an independent chair for the STP, and planning integrated health and care services accessible to all people in Coventry and Warwickshire.”