Fears over plans to cut NHS services

Wigan's MP Lisa Nandy has criticised the Tory government after the extent of potential cuts to the NHS were revealed.

Campaign group 38 Degrees has released the results of an investigation it conducted into what it calls “secret plans to change our NHS” by reviewing publicly available documents on sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) which have been produced for each area.

The group said its investigation shows a swathe of proposed changes to frontline services, including A&E closures and cuts to hospital beds.

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It says that according to an STP about Greater Manchester, made public in 2015, the health authorities needs to make £2b of savings before 2021 and have been given “significant savings targets for frontline services”.

These include plans to centralise mental health, pathology and radiology but it is unclear whether any local services will close.

Earlier this year health leaders around the country were tasked with planning how they will deliver a “sustainable and transformed” health service to improve quality of care and NHS finances. But health experts have warned that this could lead to a “glut” of hospital services being shut down.

Ms Nandy said: “These plans would be a devastating blow to NHS services which are already feeling the strain from six years of mismanagement under the Tories.

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“If the Government pushes ahead with these proposals to close hospital wards, reduce bed numbers and downgrade A&E services, it will be a betrayal of the British people.

“It proves once and for all that, despite all of their rhetoric, you simply cannot trust the Tories with the NHS.”

A NHS England spokesman told the BBC that it is not a secret that the NHS is looking to make major efficiencies and that the best way of doing so is for in consultation with local communities.

They also emphasised that the proposals are at a draft stage and no changes to the services people currently receive would be made without local engagement.

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The report also suggests changes could be made to the care provided by GPs but Dr Tim Dalton, Local GP and Chair of NHS Wigan Borough CCG, said they have been working on making changes since 2013.

He said: “Currently, we have a lot of GP practices offering high quality care, but the system is unsustainable as there aren’t enough doctors and nurses. We are working with our practices to develop new ways of delivering traditional GP services.

“We are encouraging practices to work more closely together to make services more efficient and to enable them to offer more services.”