2017 will be critical year for Cornwall’s health services
Sweeping changes to Cornwall’s health services will be decided in 2017, but the time for public consultation is rapidly running out Cornwall councillors are warning. Cornwall’s NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), which will implement the response to the Government’s funding of Cornwall’s health services, will be finalised by mid 2017 but the public consultation period ends on the 20th January.
The Government has set Cornwall NHS services a target of saving £264m over the next three years by 2020/21. Early drafts of the plans include reviewing how urgent care services and the community hospital network work, looking at how specialist services such as cancer treatment are provided, and bringing in new ways of working to create greater efficiencies. It also calls for major changes in the way social care is organised, bringing the NHS and the Council in Cornwall together to create a more joined up service.
“The STP provides a great opportunity for all to work together to improve the health care for the people of Cornwall. Much of what comes out of this process could be good, but we do not believe that the Government is providing the funding that is needed to do a proper job,” said Adam Paynter, Deputy Leader of Cornwall Council and Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the Council.
“In December we saw the Government dumping the costs of social care on to local councils and council tax payers, now they are doing the same thing with the Health Service, setting limits on funding and leaving local communities to decide how to divide up the pot,”
“The implications of the changes that are being proposed by this plan as it is developed in 2017 are going to be huge. Local people need to have their say, both on how they are implemented, and also send a message to Whitehall that it is only going to work if it is adequately funded. Only the Liberal Democrats have committed to raise extra money for health if it is needed. We call on Cornwall’s Conservative MPs to join us and make the case for a fair deal for Cornwall on health and social care funding,” said Cllr Paynter.
It has been widely accepted that Cornwall faces unique challenges in the provision of health care, given its geography, the seasonal changes in population and that the government’s funding formulas do not reflect the social needs of the county.
St Just Cornwall Councillor, Sue James said “Whitehall funding formulas have left Cornwall underfunded for years, in Health, Social Care, Education and other vital public services when compared to other parts of the country. Unless the under-funding can be addressed through the STP process it will be difficult for some of its laudable ambitions to be achieved. Regardless of people’s views on the STP process I urge everyone to have their say, starting with attending the public meetings being held over the next few weeks.”
A series of public meetings are being held across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to hear views on the STP over a ten day period from 9th January to 19th January. Details can be found at www.cornwall.gov.uk/shapethefuture . It should be noted that if the public wish to attend they must book their place in advance by phoning 01726 627897.