Newcastle’s MP calls for urgent talks over local NHS cuts

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03 Jun 2015
Newcastle’s Labour MP Paul Farrelly has called for an urgent meeting of all parts of the NHS with local MPs to discuss cuts to local community hospitals, the crisis at A&E and a looming £200m plus deficit in Staffordshire health and social care services.

Speaking in the Queen’s Speech debate on the NHS yesterday, he accused the government of a lack of honest and transparency in trying to suppress a major report last August into the County’s so-called ‘distressed health economy’ by accountants KPMG. 

After behind the scenes follow-up work on the report, last week local NHS bodies announced plans to close the community hospital in Longton, and cut beds at Cheadle, Leek and Bradwell hospital in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

‘What is happening now is that the conclusions of that work into ‘distressed health economies’ is dribbling out in the board papers of the hospitals and patchwork of Clinical Commissioning Groups and NHS trusts created by the Government’s reforms,’ Mr Farrelly told the House of Commons.

‘If Staffordshire is anything to go by, there is no joined-up information for the public, let alone consultation.’

‘The two local CCGs, to quote the local Sentinel newspaper last week, ‘say they have already done enough ‘pre-engagement’ on the plans to render further consultation redundant.Well they certainly have not. In fact, there has been no engagement, pre- or post-, at all,’ Mr Farrelly added.

Earlier, Stafford’s Tory MP Jeremy Lefroy had called for A&E at Stafford to re-open on a 24 hour basis, to relieve intense pressure on the local Royal Stoke University Hospital. 

Recent NHS figures have shown that in January and February, of the total of 912 patients across the country waiting on a trolley at A&E for over 12 hours, 613 – two thirds of all the cases – happened at the Royal Stoke.

‘They were waiting for a bed to be found,’ Mr Farrelly told fellow MPs. ‘But another of KPMG’s proposals is the removal of 63 beds at the hospital to save £20 million. Currently, we do not know where this recommendation stands. The cumulative effect of the cuts, though, could simply make the situation at the hospital worse.’

‘That’s why today I have asked all the local NHS bodies to meet with all the local MPs, and make plans to engage and consult the public.’

The KPMG report, which was leaked to Newcastle’s MP in February, is one of 11 commissioned into areas around England where the NHS is in deficit. The others are Eastern Cheshire, North East London, South West London, Cumbria, Mid Essex, Cambridge & Peterborough, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, East Sussex and Devon.

Since the Commons debate, NHS England has stepped in directly to run three of the areas – Essex, North Cumbria and West Devon – in a series of special measures which the Government has called the NHS’ ‘new success regime’.

In the Commons, Mr Farrelly had criticised NHS England - set up in its current form following the Government’s controversial ‘top-down re-organisation’ of the NHS after 2010 – as the ‘least accountable public body’ he had come across in the last Parliament.

He is now calling on the other local NHS bodies – the Royal Stoke hospital, the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership Trust (which runs the community hospitals), Combined Heathcare (which looks after mental health) and the North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Groups (which pay providers for health services) – to meet with all local MPs, and asked ministers to be open about future plans.

‘I hope the Secretary of State, and his health ministers, will not only encourage that, but also join in and explain how the changes fit into the NHS Plan,’ he said.

‘And how much of the extra £8 billion conjured out of the election air will go into helping the local health economies not only in Staffordshire, but also the other 10 areas facing major challenges and cuts.’

Conservative Health Minister Jane Ellison, having denied the existence of KPMG’s report in answer to written parliamentary by Mr Farrelly, failed to address health services in Staffordshire when responding to the debate.

The Hansard copy of Mr Farrelly’s speech can be found here: