A cost-cutting NHS reorganisation or a chance to integrate services? MP Derek Thomas and a volunteer panel seek the answers
A series of meetings in which West Cornwall residents grill health professionals on how they would like to see community health services integrate is currently being hosted by local MP Derek Thomas.
Every health and care system in England – including Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly – is required to produce a Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), showing how local services will become sustainable – delivering the vision of better health, better patient care and improved NHS efficiency but against backdrop of a possible £279 million shortfall within five years.
Mr Thomas said: “Despite the challenges, I believe that with the right information, the STP can make a difference in helping to integrate our health and social care services and to this end I have brought together a panel of people who can question the experts on how they would like to see their own particular aspect of health provision change.
“A whole range of health professionals including doctors, carers, nurses, NHS managers, pharmacists and those involved with mental health provision will come along to meet with the panel; we are also inviting health campaigners including my predecessor, Andrew George.
“The 12 panel members are made up of people who are fairly distant from health and social care provision, but who all share one thing – a commitment and desire to see patients put at the centre of any planned changes in our health system.”
The sessions will run right through to the end of February and any recommendations coming out of the meetings will be submitted to the STP process. At the first meeting, Phil Confue, as the Cornwall STP’s Senior Responsible Officer, explained what the STP was trying to achieve and outlined how the panel could contribute to the process; others to have met the panel include Cornwall councillors who sit on the council’s Health and Social Care committee and Richard Phillips, a director of healthcare for the Association of British Healthcare Industries (ABHI) who lives in Newlyn but who was able to give a national perspective of the STP process having been involved with the STPs of both Birmingham and Manchester.
West Cornwall HealthWatch campaigners and Friends of three local hospitals presented their views at another session.
Mr Thomas says the inquiry will provide an outlet for the views and opinions of those on the frontline of delivering health and social care.
“I believe that this inquiry will give professionals, who are often overlooked, the chance to be heard and to contribute to the important process of shaping health and social care services,” he added.
“As this inquiry progresses, the three driving values of the STP should be the safety of patients, integrating services to reduce waste in the health and social care system and improving patient outcomes.
“It is absolutely essential that the needs of patients are put at the centre of any changes in health and social care.”
Picture caption: From left, health inquiry panel members Peter Berriman, Chris Goninan, Angie McKniff, Suzanne Leggett, Naomi Gorvin, Trevor Burton, Margaret Eddy, John Craver, Maggy Parker, Susan Nebesnuick, Norman Robson and Derek Thomas, MP; missing from the picture is panel member Jane Royle.