Controversial health plans ‘could downgrade two hospitals and leave Brent Council crippled by social care costs’

Brent Council could struggle with the cost of funding social care under the plans

Brent Council could struggle with the cost of funding social care under the plans - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Critics claim controversial health care plans could see the downgrading of two hospitals and leave Brent Council financially crippled by social care costs.

Cllr Krupesh Hirani

Cllr Krupesh Hirani - Credit: Archant

Campaigners fear the NW London Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) could see Charing Cross and Ealing hospitals downgraded which would put a strain on Northwick Park and St Mark’s Hospitals in Watford Road.

They also claim the plans, which will save £1.4billion from local health and social care services up to 2021, could leave the town hall struggling to cope with the cost of paying for social care.

NHS England (NHSE) has asked local areas to develop an STP as part of a five-year plan to deliver a better health service for residents. It is based on a triple aim of improving health and wellbeing, improving care and quality, and improving productivity and closing financial deficits.

Cllr Krupesh Hirani, Brent Council’s cabinet member for community wellbeing, said: “We have had concerns from the offset about the top down process from NHS England on STPs.

Carolyn Downs, chief executive of Brent Council, is asking for four conditions to be met first

Carolyn Downs, chief executive of Brent Council, is asking for four conditions to be met first - Credit: Archant

“However, we are working locally to turn that around and making the best of this opportunity to develop more localised plans with our residents. We were the first council in the country to take the STP out to the streets so that residents could have a clear say on their priorities.

“We need more focus on prevention and better holistic mental health services and Brent Council has a duty to be involved and get the best deal for our residents.”

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Carolyn Downs, chief executive of Brent Council, has said it can only be agreed if four conditions are met.

They are:

• The implementation business case which may result in the hospitals being downgraded or closed is released, debated and understood.

• The flow of monies from acute to out of hospital settings are clarified.

• The specification for out of hospital settings, in particular social care, are clarified based on an agreed model of out of hospital care.

• A full risk assessment for the plan and relevant mitigations are included.

Maurice Hoffman, a Wembley resident, is calling on the council to launch a public consultation into the plans which will make residents aware of the proposed changes.

He said: “The whole decision making process must be in public.

“Brent Council should only make a decision on the STP once there is a response from the NHS on the assurances required by Brent Council.”

Mr Hoffman said: “If they sign up to this without checking where they get the money from they are basically giving NHSE an open cheque.

“It is vital that Brent Council sets up a consultation process so that residents can respond to the STP and any proposed strategies that Carolyn Downs says Brent Council is seeking.” In an email to Mr Hoffman, Ms Downs said: “The cabinet made its requirements clear at the meeting when it discussed the STP at the end of October. Some of its requirements are going work and so the existing decision will stand until the financial and out of hospital strategies are agreed.

“I think Clinical Commissioning Groups are making their decisions in January so we could do the same if conditions are met within that time frame.”

Cllr Hirani, said: “The NHS document is currently being reviewed by health economists appointed by the council to assess the impact on Brent residents as the implications from it will affect local people. The council’s top priority is to improve the health and lives of local people and we will continue to make the case to ensure that our residents get the best health and social care services locally.”

Ealing and Hammersmith and Fulham councils have refused to sign up to the plan.

A public meeting to discuss the plans will be taking place tomorrow in the boardroom at the Wembley Centre for Health and Care in Chaplin Road, Wembley, from noon to 1.30pm.

All residents are allowed to attend.