New NHS plans must not be a smokescreen for further government cuts, says UNISON

The government must do more to reassure staff and the public that new NHS service delivery reforms are not a cover for further cuts, says UNISON.

Last Friday was the deadline for the submission of 44 new sustainability and transformation plans across England, which are intended to provide better co-ordination of health and social care for patients.

But UNISON is concerned that the fast pace at which they are being pushed through risks undoing much of the good the proposals could potentially bring.

UNISON head of health Christina McAnea said: “The plans could lead to closer working between health and social care, and between the various parts of the NHS in particular areas. This would be in the best interests of both patients and staff.

“But meeting Friday’s deadline did not allow enough time to give these plans the full consideration needed for them to work properly.

“The NHS is at breaking point, but still the government pretends there’s enough cash to provide decent care. No wonder the plans have been met with such scepticism.

“Health workers and the public need reassurance that there won’t be a whole new round of cuts, closures and hospital mergers as a result of these plans.”

UNISON has written to health secretary Jeremy Hunt demanding he slows down the pace, involves the public and allows full consultation with unions on the plans.

Notes to editors:
– The government has set up 44 ‘footprint’ areas to bring health, care and other organisations together to produce sustainability and transformation plans (STP). The STPs will be used to develop improved health, care and finance plans covering each ‘footprint’ area.

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