Healthwatch Liverpool calls for transparency over new NHS plans
PRESS RELEASE – for immediate release
16 November 2016
The NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) have finally been published today, setting out proposals for radical changes to health services in the city.
Healthwatch Liverpool has significant concerns that the process of developing the STP has not been open or transparent. They fear that this may lead to decisions being taken in the short term for financial reasons which could impact on the longer term aspiration to address the city's health challenges.
Healthwatch Liverpool chair, Lynn Collins, commented "We have not yet had the opportunity to review, or scrutinise, the detail of the plan. We believe that this was because of the regrettable way that the process was prescribed nationally, rather than a lack of desire by local health leaders to properly engage with local people and partners".
It is clear, locally and nationally, that health and care services are under increased strain caught between rising demand (caused by demographic changes and medical advances) and financial constraints. Liverpool's health sector faces particular challenges due to the extent of poor health, the health inequalities that exist across the city and between the city and elsewhere in the country.
Over the last couple of years the Healthy Liverpool programme has been developing to address these, and Healthwatch are concerned this process could be overtaken by the rapid pace and lack of transparency in developing the STP.
Lynn Collins said "It is vital that plans, timescales and finances are realistic and allow for the public and other partners to be properly part of the process".
Lynn went on to add "Some big changes may be needed but these take time, careful planning and investment. People need to believe that their health needs, and those of their family, community and future generations are at the heart of the plans. Given the scale of the financial challenges and the degree of secrecy to date, some degree of public suspicion is likely and understandable".
Healthwatch Liverpool now hope and expect that any proposed changes to health services contained within the STP are consulted on fully and meaningfully. They believe that Liverpool residents must have the opportunity to comment on proposed changes and understand the reasoning behind them.
Notes to editors:
• Healthwatch Liverpool was established in April 2013 to ensure that everyone who uses NHS and social care services in Liverpool is well informed about the options that are available to them.
• Healthwatch Liverpool is part of a national network made up of local Healthwatches across each of the 152 local authority areas and Healthwatch England, the national body.
• For more information about Healthwatch Liverpool visit www.healthwatchliverpool.co.uk
• Contact Sarah Thwaites, Chief Officer, on 0300 77 77 007, email firstname.lastname@example.org