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No answers from NHS chief over STP plans as she admits: I’ve only been here five weeks

PUBLISHED: 14:11 17 February 2017 | UPDATED: 15:01 17 February 2017

GP Coral Jones (left), Cllr Jonathan McShane and Samantha Campbell from the NEL STP. Photo: Gokhan Bozkurt

GP Coral Jones (left), Cllr Jonathan McShane and Samantha Campbell from the NEL STP. Photo: Gokhan Bozkurt

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People expecting to grill NHS chiefs over “secretive” plans to carve up Hackney’s healthcare were furious to discover they could only question one manager for five minutes – because she had to leave early.

The meeting organised by Healthwatch Hackney to grill NHS chiefs. Photo: Gokhan Bozkurt The meeting organised by Healthwatch Hackney to grill NHS chiefs. Photo: Gokhan Bozkurt

Samantha Campbell, head of engagement for the North East London Sustainability and Transformation Plan (NEL STP), was also unable to answer any questions about its finance, admitting she had only been in her post for five weeks.

An Ipsos Mori poll revealed 86 per cent of people have never heard of the plans, which could see England split up into 44 areas that must achieve financial balance by next year.

Hackney’s healthcare would be linked with that in seven other council areas in what would be called the North East London STP and given a target of saving £587million.

Shirley Murgraff, 85, said: “There is no doubt this will go down in the books as a consultation. I think it’s absolutely a disgrace that the head of NEL is not here, and even the person who was here was not here for the whole time.

Shirley Murgraff (centre left) at a public meeting to discuss the NHS' proposed Sustainability and Transformation Plans for North East London  - which she said she believed had been conceived to Shirley Murgraff (centre left) at a public meeting to discuss the NHS' proposed Sustainability and Transformation Plans for North East London - which she said she believed had been conceived to "destroy the NHS". Photo: Gokhan Bozkurt

“NHS London has published 68 pages of patients and public involvement guidance and they have ignored every single bit of it in the way they have set up the STP.

“Cllr [Jonathan] McShane [health boss at Hackney Council] said the STP isn’t going to work – what does he think of the idea it is not meant to work? That’s the whole idea of the STP. It’s meant to destroy the NHS.”

GP Coral Jones was speaking on behalf of Keep Our NHS Public, along with Cllr McShane at the meeting organised by watchdog Healthwatch Hackney.

GP Nick Bailey asked Ms Campbell where the money was going to come from to fund the plan: “The British Medical Association has estimated that to fund the kind of infrastructure you are talking about would be in the region of £500m.

"That’s the whole idea of the STP. It’s meant to destroy the NHS"

Shirley Murgraff

“There are two concrete things we are facing – the closure of the A&E at King George’s Hospital [in Goodmayes] and the threat of the pathology lab moving out of the Homerton. I wonder if you can speak about some concrete things, because they are all about financial reductions, which is what this STP in our view is all about.”

Ms Campbell replied: “I can’t speak finances per se. In terms of how things are going to be paid for, I can’t answer that question directly, but I will take it back and get an answer for you.”

Marion Macalpine, a KONP campaigner pointed out: “For a meeting like this it is extremely disappointing we don’t have the absolutely essential budgetary information.”

Cllr McShane, who wrote to health secretary Jeremy Hunt last year to complain even he had been kept in the dark about the plans, said: “If this was about a genuine transformation of health they would have involved us from the start. It feels very much the focus is entirely in tackling the money.

“That’s why people are calling it a secret plan for cuts.”

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