Green Councillors have condemned the ‘weak response’ from local health chiefs and the Council’s Labour administration over plans to reorganise and cut local NHS services.
Last Wednesday 11th January NHS England wrote to the Council regarding the progress of the controversial ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plan’ (STP) for local health services.  Greens have expressed alarm that the letter contains no detail on plans for public consultation despite including the statement that STP is now moving “from planning phase to implementation.”
Both the Labour administration and Conservative group have been criticised by the Green Group for ‘inaction’ and lack of vigilance over the STP, plans which the Greens fear will pave the way for the outsourcing of the NHS. Drafts of the plan outline how local health services will be expected to make close to £864m in savings, and propose cuts and changes to emergency services, A&E, access to hospital beds and social care.
At December’s Full Council the Green Group put forward a motion asking that the local Council cease to co-operate with the STP process until adequate consultation was achieved, a call backed by local campaigners Sussex Defend the NHS. However following what the Greens described as a ‘wrecking amendment’, both the Labour administration and the Conservatives refused to support these proposals.  Yet a recent survey of 700 city residents by the University of Brighton, reported to Councillors in November, showed at least 90% of the public want their local councillors to actively campaign against impending STP cuts. 
Councillor Dick Page, member of the Health and Wellbeing Board, commented:
“While nationally the Government is widely seen as in denial about any crisis about pressures on hospitals, and three parliamentary select committees call for a cross-party solution to funding, we have a local Conservative Councillor remarking that the NHS will always demand more money, and a Labour Councillor stating “we should be getting more deeply involved in the STP process.” 
“After Labour councillors voted with the Tories to defeat the Green call not to co-operate further with this secretive STP, there is no doubt that locally Labour and the Tories are unwilling to push hard on exposing the truth of NHS cuts. Unsurprisingly, the response from the NHS to their ‘concerns’ is weak. The letter makes no mention of any ‘greater transparency’, no detail on what the STP operational plans for the next two years actually involve, and no public consultation details: which is what the Greens were asking for.
“We will continue to resist this degradation of our NHS, and work with the public to keep up the pressure for a properly-resourced service. We call again on the Labour administration to stop endorsing the STP- a Conservative Government strategy designed to destabilise our health service. ”
 See below copy of NHS England letter
 Labour Amendment: http://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000117/M00006130/$$Supp21429dDocPackPublic.pdf p.29
 “93.5% of residents support their local councillors actively campaigning against impending STP cuts.” http://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/bchss/results-from-survey-1/#.WHj6QtKLSUk:
 Cllr Taylor, and Cllr Yates, in the Council STP debate, 15th December
Notes: Several councils and their Health and Wellbeing Boards across the country including in North London, Sheffield and Liverpool have agreed to reject or vote down the STP plans.
11 Jan 2017
Dear Mr Raw and Councillor Yates
Thank you for your letter dated 21 December 2016 informing us of the motion
entitled ‘NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plan’ (STP), which was passed at
Brighton and Hove City Council’s meeting of 15 December 2016. I am replying on
behalf of my colleague Ian Dodge as I am more closely involved in the oversight of
the STPs across the region.
As you know, STPs are the process by which the NHS is working locally to develop
health and care strategies that will deliver the Five Year Forward View. To deliver
this vision we need to change the way in which health and social care work together
to reduce inequalities in health, improve quality and increase a focus on prevention
and care in the right place. The NHS is committed to achieving this in an open and
transparent manner and your comments are noted.
With this in mind we note in particular your concerns over “the adequacy of public
engagement and transparency of the process” and “that the council will aim to
ensure greater transparency of the planning process and fuller engagement with our
Michael Wilson, Chief Executive of Surrey and Sussex Healthcare Trust, who leads
the East Surrey and Sussex STP footprint, notes in response to your concerns that
“the issues raised by the council regarding engagement are very timely as the STP
transitions from a planning phase to implementation”. He advises that “the STP
programme board acknowledges the need to improve engagement and in the New
Year will be embarking on an important piece of work regarding our acute services
clinical strategy. This will be undertaken “bottom up” to ensure that we have both
Health and high quality care for all, now and for future generations
good clinical and executive engagement in the NHS and the involvement of our
wider partners in local government and the voluntary sector, and the public
themselves. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with the council to discuss
this in more detail and to agree how we can co-design an inclusive engagement
Adam Doyle, Accountable Officer for Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning
Group (CCG), is fully in agreement with this strategy and notes “that the STP has
been on the agenda of the Health and Wellbeing Board since last year and regular
updates have been received from the CCG. Last month the CCG Accountable
Officer and Chief Operating Officer jointly presented to the Health Overview and
Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) plans regarding the STP, the Central Sussex and East
Surrey Alliance, and local plans for Brighton and Hove”.
“The Health and Social Care integration and transformation plan for the city is called
‘Brighton and Hove Caring Together’. In November and December a series of public
engagement events were held, jointly hosted by the CCG and city council. Included
within these events was an explanation of the STP and how it links with the local
plans for the city. As plans develop over the next twelve months the CCG remains
committed to further discussion with the public regarding the impact of these
proposals. These plans have been developed in partnership with officers from the
city council and representatives of the Health and Well-Being Board and are an
extension of existing initiatives in the city”.
With this in mind NHS England has confidence that the local CCG and STP leaders
are in the process of engaging with the council on these matters, have the firm
intention of further improving their engagement with you, and have made an offer of
how this may be taken forward.
With regard to your concerns about ensuring that the (HOSC) is able to review the
results of public consultations we would point out that significant service change
within STPs is subject to existing legislation as with all other previous service change
and we would expect HOSCs to be fully consulted in the normal way. The CCG has
presented evidence that this has begun whilst acknowledging that the process is in
its early stages.
Finally we note your commitment on behalf of your local communities that the council
will work to ensure that funding for health and social care is sufficient to meet the
needs and requirements of the city. We welcome this commitment and hope that
through the STP process and our general partnership work together we can ensure
that patients are not trapped inappropriately in hospital whilst waiting for a social
care package to be put in place.
Health and high quality care for all, now and for future generations
NHS England has high expectations of the breadth and depth of the partnership that
will underpin the strategic planning of the STP footprints. We are confident that the
quality of relationships both within Brighton and the East Surrey and Sussex STP
footprint as whole will allow your council to fully participate and gain assurance that
the STP has a robust and reliable planning blueprint for the future which contains
extensive consideration of the views of the local population and their elected
representatives. I would encourage you to ensure that you are working closely with
Michael Wilson and his colleagues to create a joined up plan to the benefit of local
Interim Regional Director South
Michael Wilson CBE, Chief Executive Surrey and Sussex Hospital and Lead for
Chief Executive Surrey and Sussex Hospital and Lead for
Sussex and East Surrey STP
Matthew Swindells National Director: Operations and Information
Operations and Information
Director of Commissioning Operations (Kent and Medway), NHS