GPs in Warwickshire and Coventry have gone on record to express their concerns that they have been “excluded” from the drawing up of a major five-year plan which will shape health care services in the area.
The Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for Coventry and Warwickshire will be released on Tuesday.
The purpose of STPs, which are being put together by health and social care leaders in 44 footprint areas nationwide, is to improve health care while making substantial savings.
A major component of these plans in other areas so far has been the moving of health care services out of hospitals and into the community.
But members of Warwickshire and Coventry’s Local Medical Committees (LMC), which are statutory representative for GPs and general practice in the county, have said they feel residents should be aware that they have not been consulted during the drawing up of the plans.
Dr David Weston, joint medical secretary for Warwickshire LMC, said: “Despite it being widely accepted that general practice is at a crisis point because of increasing demand and a decreasing workforce, we are appalled that the appropriate representatives of GPs have not been formally involved in plans for their future and the futures of their patients’ care.”
Members of both LMCs have said that when the STP is published they will look at the details carefully and “they will support reasonable, practical, properly resourced proposals which improve the delivery of health care”.
But they have also warned that general practice cannot currently take any more work without further compromising the access patients already have to services .
They have also said that health care leaders and the public should be mindful of the potential impact on the problems patients already have accessing GP services if extra work is redirected towards general practice with neither adequate staffing levels nor finance in tow.
Dr Lesli Davies, also joint medical secretary for the Warwickshire LMC, said: “It’ll be our patients who decide if they support a plan that makes it even harder to get a GP appointment.”
The South Warwickshire Keep Our NHS Public (SWKONP) campaign group has raised concerns about there being no public consultation for the STP so far with the deadline set by NHS England for signing new contracts for 2017 and 2018 being December 23.
The group has said no contracts should be signed until there has been a proper consultation process involving open scrutiny of the financial, health and social care implications of the plans.
Anna Pollert, for SWKONP, said: “The people of Warwickshire are being kept in the dark. It’s a disgrace.
“We need Warwickshire and Coventry’s MPs, council leaders, CCGs, and all relevant consultative and representative bodies to take the lead and act now on our behalf to protect our health and social care and refuse any cuts planned in the local STP.”
Cllr John Holland, a member of Warwickshire County Council’s health scrutiny committee, said, “A top down approach is exactly the wrong way to produce an acceptable plan. The stakeholders are the patients as are the health care professionals. They should have been asked for their views. The plan should then evolve from there.”
****** A Coventry and Warwickshire STP spokesman said: “The plan sets out how the local health and care economy will tackle three significant challenges of bridging the gaps in health and wellbeing, care and quality and finances.
“We’ve worked hard to understand how many people will need care services in the future and what their health needs might be.
“The next step is to work with stakeholders on what those services will look like.
“It’s important to remember the plan is still very much draft at this stage.
“STPs need to be developed with, and based upon, the needs of local patients and communities and therefore we will be seeking the views of people to help shape it as part of the next stage after publication.”