Opposition is growing to the Tories’ Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) for the NHS. STPs would slash hospital departments and services across England.
The latest draft of the STP for Devon was published last Friday. It confirmed that acute services at North Devon District Hospital will be under review until March 2017.
Health campaigners see this as a prelude to running down services and full closure.
Dave Clinch from the Save Our Hospital Services campaign told Socialist Worker, “It didn’t come as a surprise.
“These plans have been long in the pipeline—and are part of the broader attacks on the NHS.”
Some 4,000 people marched to defend the NHS in Barnstaple, north Devon, last month.
The Tories claim STPs will “centralise” acute services and improve patient care. But their plans would slash services across the board.
Dave said, “The impact on patients will be horrific—somebody is going to die if the services go.
“Devon is a remote area and patients will have a long way to travel to the nearest hospital in Exeter. That’s around 40 miles from Torrington, 50 miles from Barnstaple and 80 miles from Lynton.”
The real reason for the attacks is to “save” £557 million in Devon’s health and social care budget. The STPs are being rolled out across 44 areas.
Health campaigners in Oxfordshire are uniting to resist their STP, in particular planned attacks at Horton General Hospital.
The plans include downgrading consultant-led maternity services, the special care baby unit and the 24-hour children’s wards.
One proposal also threatens the A&E department.
The new Oxfordshire Health Alliance brings together a number of local campaigns.
Dr Ken Williamson, chair of the local Keep Our NHS Public group, said, “We are all coming together because of the urgency and seriousness of the situation.”
Dave added, “People are making links with what’s going on here and the bigger attacks on the NHS.
“They want it to be part of a national campaign to defend the NHS.”
Seven local councils have refused to support their local STPs. In Hammersmith and Fulham and Ealing, Labour council leaders have said they are “totally opposed to the north west London STP”.
Health campaigners should pressure their local councils to follow suit.
Tory social care minister David Mowat has said that STPs should not go ahead “if councils believe they have been marginalised”.
The Health Campaigns Together group has called a national protest for Saturday 4 March. It can be a focus for every campaigner.