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Government has ‘more to do’ to convince public of benefits of regional plans, PAC says

Government has ‘more to do’ to convince public of benefits of regional plans, PAC says

Government has ‘more to do’ to convince public of benefits of regional plans, PAC says
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The Government has ‘much more to do’ before they can convince the public that regional plans to transform healthcare in England are about more than service cuts, leading MPs have said.

The Parliamentary Accounts Committee has said in its report on the financial sustainability of the NHS that the plans are key to improving care and balancing the books but they lack credibility for meeting their regional financial targets.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have previously said the plans are at a variety of stages, with some requiring ‘serious help’.

The committee recommended that NHS England and NHS Improvement outline how they plan to support the struggling organisations in an analysis of the 44 plans, which is due to be released next month.

The report added that convincing the public ‘of the benefits of the plans to them’ is ‘vital’ to their success.

An analysis from the BMA found that STPs would need at least £9.5bn in capital funding to be successfully delivered.

Dr Mark Porter, BMA chair of council, said the MPs ‘are the latest in a long line of people growing skeptical’ about the success of the plans.

He said: ‘The simple fact is that the NHS is at breaking point because politicians have chosen to underfund our health and social care system and ignore the warnings of healthcare professionals.’

In the report, the Committee criticises ‘bickering in public’ between key figures responsible for the health service, while the financial performance of NHS bodies is worsening.

Following a health select committee enquiry into the state of NHS finances, Sarah Wollaston, chair of the committee, told Chancellor Philip Hammond that the £10bn figure quoted by the Government when discussing additional healthcare spending is ‘incorrect’.

Ms Wollaston said that the Department of Health’s budget will only increase by £6bn in that time as there have been £3.5bn cuts to the NHS elsewhere, such as the public health grant to local authorities, between 2014/15 and 2020/21.

Meg Hillier MP, chair of the PAC, called the contradicting statements about NHS funding from the Prime Minister and head of NHS England ‘an insult to taxpayers who deserve an honest, grown-up conversation about future finance and service provision’.

She said: ‘Government’s rigid adherence to a set of stock lines about funding, in the face of mounting evidence its plan isn’t up to the job, is not it.

‘It is inconceivable the Government would allow a catastrophic failure in the NHS and we expect it to take targeted action now to support NHS bodies facing severe financial problems.

She added that the ‘sticking-plaster approach’ is not sustainable and fails to provide patients with good care.

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