Faisal Rashid, MP for Warrington South, recently led a debate in Westminster on NHS reorganisation.
Opening the debate, Faisal paid tribute to the NHS and its hardworking staff. However, he said that increasing pressures and eight years of chronic underfunding have pushed the NHS to the brink, rendering the issue of its reorganisation crucially important.
Critical of the top down reorganisation that had taken place under the Health and Social Care Act 2012, he warned of the damage that could be done if future reorganisation was not carried out in the right way – with more investment, more rational funding decisions and the reversal of privatisation.
Faisal focused on a few key issues, including: clinical care commissioning groups; sustainability and transformation plans and partnerships; integrated care partnerships; health and social care integration; and healthcare infrastructure.
Faisal Rashid MP said:
“Once again, the Government is undertaking another NHS reorganisation, in what appears to be an effort to reverse the damage caused with the introduction of the problematic Health and Social Care Act 2012. But you would be forgiven for not knowing it was happening.
“Parliament should be given the opportunity to properly scrutinise the ongoing process of its reorganisation. But this is simply not happening. If adopted, proposals to significantly change health and social care provision are taking place without even a vote or a debate.
“The Health and Social Care 2012 Act launched 44 Sustainability Transformation Partnerships (STPs). That process has been characterised by Government secrecy, with little or no engagement with staff, patients, unions or the public before the publication of the plans.
“The Warrington & Cheshire partnership is completely unworkable. It is the second largest of the 44 STP footprints, covering 2.5 million people, 12 CCGs and 20 NHS provider organisations. To be deliverable, it required £755 million in capital funding, against a backdrop of cuts to NHS capital budgets. It is unsurprising that the STP has made little progress.
“For patients, the lack of integration of health and social care can be a maddening experience. As demands upon the NHS become increasingly complex and long-term, integrated care has the potential to transform the lives of millions of patients. But this is not something that can achieved on the cheap. It must be properly funded.
“Warrington Together offers a potential way forward as a locally appropriate, collaborative model of care – a single taxpayer-funded organisation working to a single integrated plan; promoting healthy lifestyles; utilising doctors and hospitals, as well as community care, social care and mental healthcare. While this is not without its challenges, our local model represents something we should try to achieve on a national scale, involving local stakeholders to provide integrated health and social care services.
“Under Conservative-led Governments, complexity and fragmentation has characterised NHS reorganisation for several years. I believe the Government now has a clear responsibility to enable some joined up thinking and make the debate around NHS reorganisation far more accountable and accessible to the public.”