NHS chiefs are trying to keep plans to cut hospital services in England secret, an investigation has found.
Full details of 44 reviews of services around the country – which involve closing some A&Es or, in one case, a whole hospital – are yet to emerge. That is because NHS England told local managers to keep the plans “out of the public domain” and avoid requests for information, the King’s Fund suggested. Managers were even told how to reject freedom of information requests.
The King’s Fund report did not include any details of cuts, but from the leaks and plans that have been published so far a partial picture is emerging of what is involved.
- Plans in south west London to close one of five hospitals – St George’s, Kingston, Croydon, St Helier or Epsom
- The North Tees proposal to centralise specialist services, including A&E, on two sites. It would lead to services being downgraded at one of the three major hospitals in the area
- In Devon bosses are looking at whether to close some A&E, maternity and stroke services at hospitals across the county so they can be centralised at bigger sites
- In Merseyside there has been talk of merging four hospitals – the Royal Liverpool, Broadgreen, Aintree and Liverpool Women’s – to plug a £1bn shortfall, according to leaked documents
- Plans in Birmingham and Solihull involve reorganising maternity services with fears this could result in fewer units
- Bosses at North Central London have talked about a consolidation of services on fewer sites, leading to fears that the Whittington Hospital could lose its A&E
During its research, the King’s Fund carried out interviews with staff involved in four of the reviews, known as sustainability and transformation plans (STPs). These were done on an anonymised basis.
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