Radical changes to provision of healthcare across Cambridgeshire set out in five-year System Transformation Plan published on Monday

Tracy Dowling

Tracy Dowling - Credit: Archant

Outline plans for a radical overhaul and reorganisation of health services across Cambridgeshire were published on Monday.

Plans for a radical overhaul and reorganisation of health services across Cambridgeshire were published on Monday.

The long-awaited System Transformational Plan (STP), led by the Cambridgeshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), sets out a five-year strategy to improve the health and wellbeing of the population and covers hospital services, community healthcare, mental health, social care and GP services.

The report addresses four main areas of concern: increasing demand for services; current system does not meet standards; difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff and financial challenges.

Future provision of services will be centred on “increasing the amount of care delivered close to home” and “reducing hospital activity levels” with the creation of neighbourhood care hubs. The STP also predicts a system-wide financial deficit of £250 million by 2020/21 and says this is in addition to £250m of savings and efficiency plans that individual trusts and the CCG need to deliver over the next four years.

The plans have been heavily criticised by the Hands off Hinchingbrooke (HoH) campaign and union leaders.

“The current deficit in the NHS is due to funding not keeping pace with demand, on top of a shambolic and chaotic reorganisation that is pushing trusts into debt,” said Unison’s Cambridge Acute Hospitals spokesman, Stuart Tuckwood.

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“Savings cannot be delivered without cuts and we fear that is what ‘sustainability’ will mean for people in our area.”

In a statement on its website, HoH said: “The STP appears to be a blueprint for savage cuts and blows the lid on government plans to privatise the NHS. The STP’s have been dubbed ‘slash, trash and plunder’ by campaigners.”

Tracy Dowling, accountable officer for the STP and chief officer for the CCG, said: “We are already working together and have signed a Memorandum of Understanding as a demonstration of our commitment to share budgets, deliver our agreed clinical services and ensure that our health and care services are clinically and financially sustainable. Due to the high levels of acute hospital activity, and resulting deteriorating financial position in our system, we are looking at ways to accelerate the pace of change and focus early investment on the areas that will have greatest impact on reducing hospital activity levels.”

Healthwatch Cambridgeshire has welcomed the proposals, which they say should ease some public concerns about loss of services.

Chief executive, Sandie Smith, told The Hunts Post: “People tell us they recognise that NHS and care services are under huge pressure and they want to do their bit to help things change for the better. There have already been lots of conversations locally about what the STP might mean for services, like urgent and emergency care, and keeping local hospitals. We’ve seen that these conversations have helped to influence the STP and changes. Healthwatch will continue to be a critical friend and ensure local people have their say in how their services are run in the future.”