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Statement from Councillor Pete Marland on the Milton Keynes, Bedfordshire and Luton NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plan

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NHS review must not make cuts. We need change and sustainable funding.

The Labour leader of Milton Keynes Council has issued a statement about the funding for NHS services needed by the people of MK as government cuts and strategy impact on health provision:

Major reform of the NHS has been featured heavily in national media and press this week, reporting on possible cuts and closures to NHS facilities across the country. People in MK have told me they are concerned about the future of MK Hospital and their local NHS services.

I want to make clear what position I will be taking as Leader of Milton Keynes Council and Chair of the MK Health and Wellbeing Board.

  • We will fight to ensure that the Government and NHS England properly fund our local NHS services to reflect the growth of Milton Keynes.
  • We would fight any proposals to remove A&E or Maternity services from MK Hospital and that any plans for the hospital take into account the future growth of the City.
  • We want properly integrated and funded health, social and community services. All have been under funded locally for many years.
  • We will be making the strongest possible case that with a growing population we need better access to GP Services to reduce unnecessary trips to hospital. We have already made the case to devolve the planning of GP services locally.
  • We want more funding for preventive services to reduce demand on our hospital.

 

The importance of Working Together.

Recently the NHS has asked every local area to produce a Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) on how NHS resources in their area will be spent in the future. There are 44 areas in England, and the one that includes Milton Keynes will also include Bedfordshire and Luton.

Many people in MK will already be aware of the STP as it has recently replaced the “Better Together,” hospital review that had been taking place looking at the future of Milton Keynes Hospital and Bedford Hospital.

NHS services and funds in Milton Keynes are the responsibility of the local MK Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and for the past few years Milton Keynes Council has built a very strong relationship with the CCG, through our improving Health and Wellbeing Board, where together with other partners, we make joint decisions on how some of that NHS funding can be spent.

 

Prevention is crucial.

The Labour administration of Milton Keynes Council has a clear agenda to invest in preventative services to reduce demand on the NHS, and in particular, keep people out of hospital. We believe in properly integrated NHS, Social Services and Community Services that work together, have better health outcomes and save money. We believe the best way to save the NHS is to keep people living well.

We have been making very good progress recently with our local CCG in working together investing in preventative services, such as the recently launched Falls Service that aims to prevent trips and falls in the home, funded jointly between the NHS and MK Council.

Unfortunately, despite this good work taking place locally, the STP has been imposed on Milton Keynes by NHS England. The main aim seems to be saving money and making cuts to fix a financial black hole in the NHS caused by national underfunding from the Conservative Government. It was done with little reference or regard for the work already taking place by the Health and Wellbeing Board or the good work being done by local NHS staff.

It smacked of panic at the looming financial meltdown of the NHS amid chronic underfunding of our hospitals and GP services.

Despite that MK Health and Wellbeing Board have chosen to engage fully with the process and I am positive that the strong working relationship MK Council has built with our CCG means we are in a good position to ensure a strong Milton Keynes voice and influence over the process.

 

Change is needed, not cuts.

I am very concerned that the STP does not simply become a debate about the future of the hospital, but needs to ensure investment in preventive services, better social services and local GP services to reduce the demand on the hospital.

It is vital that the review focusses on improving the NHS and funds the changes that are needed rather than simply make short term cuts.

I am dismayed that despite the clear evidence that prevention works, the squeeze on NHS budgets by the Conservative government has put the NHS in crisis and the funds to ensure a properly functioning NHS are simply not there.

In the current financial climate, I believe it is nearly impossible to make the changes the Government and NHS England want to see without the NHS simply having to make cuts. The changes that are needed require proper thought and proper funding.

We will be discussing the STP at the next Health and Wellbeing Board in September and we will ensure that all plans put forward in the coming months by the NHS are subject to proper scrutiny and debate.

I am determined to fight to save the NHS in Milton Keynes and to secure sustainable funding.

 

Cllr Peter Marland

Leader, MK Council & Chair, MK Health and Wellbeing Board

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