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GP leader persuades council to oppose brutal NHS savings plan

An LMC chair has persuaded their local council to reject plans to cut costs by overhauling local NHS services.

Dr Jackie Applebee, chair of Tower Hamlets LMC, submitted a petition to the local council with around 500 signatures demanding that plans to save £578m from the North and East London health and social care budgets be scrapped.

The petition was first announced in January with 30 signatures but was forced by the council to wait until July before they could present it at a council meeting.

Dr Applebee, who led the petition against the local Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), said the saving targets covering eight London boroughs and seven CCGs are ‘like being asked to spin gold out of straw’.

She said the plans are ‘predicated on being able to move care out of the hospital into the community’.

She said: ‘There is no capacity in the community to take on extra care. General practice is in dire straits, with 84% in a GPC survey last year saying that their workload undermines their ability to provide safe patient care.’

The petition adds that signatories are ‘gravely concerned’ the plans will see ‘a dangerous deterioration in the services that the NHS is able to provide’. 

Earlier this year both Hackney and Waltham Forest councils also rejected the north east London plans because of a failure to consult with the public when creating the plans.

Deputy mayor of Tower Hamlets, councillor Rachael Saunders, assured the petitioners that the council ‘will not be signing up’ to the plans and is ‘very much looking forward’ to fighting against budget cuts.

In response to the petition, Cllr Saunders said: ‘One of my greatest concerns actually is local accountability as well as the enormous cuts that you have spoken about.’

She said at the meeting that decision-making is being ‘sucked up’ to the regional level when the council has ‘been very much used to being able to collaborate on a borough level with the NHS’.

She added: ‘It’s the Conservative government, which is responsible for the chronic underfunding of the NHS, and it makes it even more difficult when our budgets are being cut as well, so when social care and NHS services are being cut together, local people are really suffering.’

A spokesperson for East London Health and Care Partnership, in charge of drawing up the plans, said: ‘We have a good working relationship with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and are getting on with the job of working together as a system to protect and improve health and care services for local people.’

What are STPs proposing?

Pulse’s scrutiny of the 44 STPs, which have been drawn up by CCGs, councils and NHS trusts around England, have previously revealed how: