Secretive NHS STP plans could see GP numbers in Hackney fall by a third

Dr Nick Mann

Dr Nick Mann - Credit: Archant

Critics have blasted secretive plans it is alleged could see the number of GPs in Hackney fall by a third in 10 years.

Cllr Jonathan McShane

Cllr Jonathan McShane - Credit: Archant

NHS England’s Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP) would see England divided into 44 “footprints” – which must achieve financial balance by next year.

The idea, conceived six months ago, could see Hackney’s healthcare linked with that in seven other local authority areas – the North East London (NEL) STP.

Hackney’s own health boss Cllr Jonathan McShane has written to health secretary Jeremy Hunt complaining he has been kept in the dark about the plans.

This week Well Street GP Nick Mann told the Gazette most of his colleagues still know nothing about the “hastily-conceived” idea he dubbed a “dangerous experiment” that could leave healthcare “in pieces”.

Hackney has not yet signed up to the plans but other local authorities in the region have done.

Dr Mann, who believes STP is the “the final nail in the coffin” for the NHS, said: “Our local STP plans to cut the number of GPs from 600 to 400, backfilled by a 111 phone service directing you to ‘self-care’ websites, a pharmacist, or a non-medically qualified individual.”

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But a North-East London Commissioning Support Unit (CSU) spokesman said the figure related only to Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest, and that numbers of Hackney GPs would only be worked in if and when Hackney signed up.

Dr Mann added: “We should really increase the number of GPs to 800 within four years, in terms of population increase. Anyone who has used 111 and who sees the clinical feedback sheets knows it’s worse than useless.

“I had a woman with a stroke who they refused to send out an ambulance for and yet they sent an ambulance to someone who had banged their knee.”

The GP figures are included in a document called Transforming Services Together (TST), drawn up by Tower Hamlets CCG chair and leader of the NEL STP committee Jane Milligan. Her TST is so far the only STP plan.

Hackney’s clinical commissioning group (CCG), the body of GPs that commissions local health services, has not signed up to the TST document, while Hackney Council is considering its decision.

Ms Milligan said: “There are no plans to cut the number of GPs. We are planning to address the national GP shortage by developing services that are more patient-centred.

“In order to create a better future for the NHS, and for the people it serves, we want to improve our local NHS and this is where the STP comes in. It’s a plan for how we deliver better care.”