‘Impossible NHS plans will cost £1.2bn in Yorkshire alone’

Scarborough Hospital
Scarborough Hospital

Yorkshire’s NHS needs £1.2bn of investment to deliver a massive reorganisation of health services in the next five years, it has been revealed.

The BMA has warned today ‘there is nowhere near the funding required to carry out these plans’ as it was revealed £9.5bn of infrastructure spending in new building projects and improving community facilities is being proposed across the country.

The proposals are part of much-criticised Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs), which are seeking to fill an estimated £22bn financial black hole for the NHS by April 2021, including £2bn in Yorkshire, by altering the way care is delivered and reducing hospital attendances.

NHS special report: What’s happening in Scarborough and the rest of Yorkshire?

But it has now been revealed that the proposals to make the changes include spending of over £730m in West Yorkshire, £200m in South Yorkshire and £270m in the Humber, Coast and Vale region.

The BMA said NHS leaders are ‘unlikely to have anything like the capital required to deliver the projects, with budgets under significant pressure’.

Dr Mark Porter, BMA chair of council, said: “From its very beginning this process was carried out largely behind closed doors, by rushed health and social care leaders trying to develop impossible plans for the future while struggling to keep the NHS from the brink of collapse.

“The NHS is at breaking point and the STP process could have offered a chance to deal with some of the problems that the NHS is facing, like unnecessary competition, expensive fragmentation and buildings and equipment often unfit for purpose, but there is clearly nowhere near the funding required to carry out these plans.

“These plans are fast becoming completely unworkable.” Despite the concerns, local health officials today insisted their proposals are deliverable. Chris O’Neill, programme director for the Humber, Coast and Vale STP which requires £271m of capital investment, said: “Our initial set of proposals was developed on the basis of a financing model that combines organisational capital allocations and revenue-based funding.

“The financing model would be adjusted in the event that Treasury capital were made available. We are therefore confident that in the event that ring-fenced Treasury capital is not released, we can finance our developmental investments.”

It comes as an investigation by the Yorkshire Post today uncovers the sheer intended scale of the coming change. The changes will see hospital A&E downgrades, unit closures and a massive re-organisation of healthcare provision across Yorkshire.

The NHS is facing its biggest shake-up in a generation, with care from cradle to grave put through a wholesale overhaul. This is essential, say officials, to produce a viable NHS. Across Yorkshire, hospital services are under review, there are suggestions certain sites could become specialist centres such as cardiac care or children’s operations, while some A&Es look set to be downgraded or ‘significantly’ redesigned.

Maternity services are set to be re-shaped, while fewer Yorkshire hospitals will soon provide critical care to stroke patients.

An NHS England spokesman said: “It is hardly a secret that the NHS needs to make major efficiencies to live within the financial budgets it is set by Parliament and government.

“But it is missing the point to suggest that STPs are all about saving money – they are a big opportunity to improve the care that patients receive, based on the experience of areas who are performing best, and practical things that doctors and nurses have been telling us for years.”

Rob Webster, West Yorkshire and Harrogate STP lead, said: “I would like to reiterate that this is a draft set of proposals and discussions on the detail are continuing. It’s no secret that we have a slowdown in funding across health and social care. It’s essential that we take stock and look at how best we can move forward together in 2017, so we focus less on producing a plan and more on delivering a credible course of action in partnership. STPs offer us the vehicle in which we can do this, whilst setting out realistically what can be achieved by 2021 with the resources we have available.”

A South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw STP spokeswoman said their plans for £200m capital investment are now being reviewed because of national funding issues, adding: “We originally submitted a capital requirement of £200m, and this is currently being revisited. We are aware of national issues regarding the availability of capital funds for STP developments and will continue to stress to NHS England that capital funding is essential if we are to deliver the benefits of our plans for our population.”