STP Consultation Report a Farcical Whitewash

The ‘independent’ analysis of the public consultation held by Mid & South Essex STP into it’s planned reorganisation of NHS care in our area has been published.

Unsurprisingly, the STP seemed to have found exactly what they were looking for and have had their plans endorsed, with minimal lip service being paid to the massive objections raised about the safety issues raised and the flimsy, or non-existent evidence to support sweeping root and branch reorganisation.

Mike Fieldhouse outside Southend Hospital.
Southend Hospital faces loosing many services.

Anyone who attended either of the STP’s public consultation meetings in Southend would have to be completely deluded to claim, as this report does, that he public were “broadly backing the STP’s plans”. It is quite evident that the main purpose behind this proposed reorganisation is to cut costs and plug holes in services created by chronic underfunding, including a worsening staffing crisis in the NHS. Instead of tackling the root causes, these are desperate measures attempting to patch things up that will ultimately put patient safety at risk. Despite all the denials, much of the reorganisation indicates that increased privatisation of NHS services is not far off.

The STP have failed to achieve meaningful consultation with mid & south Essex’s population and even their claim of engaging 4,000 is questionable, as they have undoubtedly counted many people twice if not more. Even if their figure were to be believed, the fact that only 0.3% of the area’s 1.3 million population took part in this consultation suggests that the vast majority of people are unaware of their plans to completely overhaul our local NHS . Without the massive efforts of the Save Southend NHS campaign in raising public awareness of this issue, we expect that consultation responses would have been significantly lower than they were.

As Professor Mike Bewick, independent chair of the joint committee of the five clinical commissioning groups in mid and south Essex has been keen to point out – this is not a referendum and any changes to the STP’s plan following this consultation are likely to amount to nothing more than a little bit of tinkering around the edges.

This whole process has been a complete charade from start to finish. Anyone who filled in the STP’s questionnaire will know that it was constructed in such a way as to only allow for positive responses to their questions.

The people of Southend have a great affection for their NHS and value it immensely. With their backing, Save Southend NHS will fight on to protect and preserve it. We hope that our local politicians who were so eager in the run up to elections earlier this month to tell us how much they cared for the NHS will remember their commitments and not allow these plans to be rubber stamped through our Council.

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