From County Councillor Brian Greenslade to Theresa May:
Dear Prime Minister,
I write with reference to your oral reply re the North Devon District Hospital to a question from your colleague Peter Heaton Jones on February 1st. Specifically your comments "I know that the input of local communities will remain crucial throughout the process, and I can assure him that of course it is this party in government that is putting the extra funding into the NHS and show how we value it.". I cannot find any evidence that the North Devon MP disputed any of this by means of a supplementary question but I certainly dispute what you say.
I must put to you how can the public have confidence in a process where Mr Mark Cooke from NHS England has written to me and accepted that the driver for the Success Regime/STP process is the need for the NHS to make cuts to close the financial gap of £22bn. How can the Devon community have faith in a process when current NHS funding delivers £226m extra funding to Cumbria, a very similar community to Devon. Had Devon received a similar level of funding per head of population then the claimed deficit facing Devon of some £400m to £500m would not be an issue.
How can the Devon community have faith in a process where a consultant, Ruth Carnell, appears to have been paid £335,000 for a report on health services in Devon, and then she becomes the "Independent" Chair of the Devon Success Regime. If we as elected representatives got into such a conflict of interests we would be severely attacked by the press and public. How can the public have faith in a process where at least two serious leaks have suggested that the North Devon District Hospital could lose its accident and emergency service, its stroke and maternity services. This is especially alarming as the NDDH is the second most remote Hospital in the country. How can the community have faith in a process which as a budget of £6 m to pay for the Success Regime/STP process when health care is being cut.
While it is claimed that no specific proposals have yet been put forward for consultation I do have to say that the Devon Success Regime/STP process is now so flawed that any attempt to undertake a meaningful consultation is no longer possible. Therefore this process should be scrapped to allow for the serious state of the NHS/Social Care system to be considered on an all party basis with the objective of putting in place a sustainable system for the future.
I believe my "friend" the former Health Minister Norman Lamb has met you recently with others to discuss such an initiative. I believe Sarah Wollaston and other Select Committee Chairs have also urged you to review health and social care funding fund and systems together.
On the issue of the claim about extra funding for the NHS, I believe Government claims an extra £10bn, this appears to be disputed by Simon Stephens, when he appeared before the Select Committee recently, and was certainly disputed by your excellent colleague the Chair of the Health Select Committee before then. Cuts to public health funding for local authorities certainly suggest a redeployment of health funding rather than an increase. Therefore I must say to you that this claimed £10 billion is all smoke and mirrors.
In conclusion I urge you to halt the Success Regime/STP process now. It will cost millions across the country, which would be better spent on health care. Tackle the huge issue of Health and Social care funding as a national priority instead of forcing local authorities to raise council tax which by itself is inadequate to tackle the problem. Tackle the problem by asking Parliament on an all party basis to work on and agree a sustainable future for health and social care.