Plan shows how Hampshire will plug £577m funding gap for healthcare

Nurses at QA hospital
Nurses at QA hospital
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A PLAN to help plug a £577m funding gap in the county’s healthcare over the next five years has been published.

The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Sustainability and Transformation Plan looks at healthcare across the county and how the NHS can save money while meeting the needs of patients.

Within the report, there is a £577m savings plan, which includes using hospital beds more efficiently to generate a reduction of 300 beds as well as selling up to 19 per cent of the NHS estate.

Care providers from across Hampshire have created the plan which will look at centralising some services to make them more sustainable.

Some patients will have to travel further for specialised treatment. It is unclear what care may move or where specific cuts will be made.

Richard Samuel, who is leading the Hampshire STP, said: ‘The STP is effectively the coming together of all the local plans that have been developed in local places. It’s about trying to fix the things that can be fixed on a bigger scale.’

He added: ‘For the first time we have got a five-year allocation. We know how much money we’re going to get. We’re going to get £333m more over the next five years but the cost of what we do is going to grow, we will be spending 40 per cent more just on drugs. If we don’t do anything, we will be left with a gap of £577m.’

The STP has key areas it will look at including prevention, reducing A&E admissions and reducing the delays in discharge for people who do not need to be in hospital. And it will look at providing treatment for chronic illnesses in a primary care setting such as GP practices.

A spokeswoman added: ‘The plan covers a period of five years from 2016 to 2021 and, while there are some changes that can be made quickly, others will take longer to develop and require substantial engagement and, where appropriate, formal consultation with people before they can be implemented.’

Dr Iain Maclennan, a former GP in Portsmouth, said the plan was a roundabout way of delivering more cuts to health services.

‘Overall, I am not encouraged by it,’ he said.

‘It is the last in a long leg of stages that will lead towards the full privatisation of the NHS. I appreciate that times are changing and we have got to move with the times and the situation we have today with people getting older and sicker is quite different.’

Dr Maclennan, from the Isle of Wight, added: ‘There are some positives in the plan. One important positive message is that providers and commissioners are to collaborate more rather than compete.

‘The whole idea of them working together is to be applauded.’

Councillor Luke Stubbs, cabinet member for public health at Portsmouth City Council, said further discussions would be needed. He added: ‘This is very much an NHS-led plan but there are things that need discussing to see what the local implications are.’