Mayor Biggs has refused to sign up to the Tory Government's local Sustainability and Transformation Plan until the Plan has been fully opened up to public consultation.
NHS bodies and local councils have been instructed by the Government to work together to develop "Sustainability and Transformation Plans" (STPs), to plan health services in each of the forty-four different prescribed areas across England. These five-year plans will set out the funding and plans for NHS services in the different areas. Many see the plans as a way of making Government imposed cuts by stealth.
The North East London (NEL) Sustainability and Transformation Plan, which covers Tower Hamlets, was submitted in October 2016 and highlights that if services continue as present, the NHS in North East London faces a shortfall of £578m by 2021.
Mayor Biggs and cabinet members have been meeting local NHS colleagues to raise concerns about the levels of savings expected and the secrecy surrounding the STPs. As a result the Mayor has said he will refuse to sign off the STP until it has been through full public consultation.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said:
"Locally, we are fortunate that the NHS leadership has been open about the STP, engaging with local authorities and sharing drafts publicly. We called for the latest draft plans to be released and these are now accessible online. There has been more transparency compared to many other areas.
"However I have serious concerns about the Sustainability and Transformation Plan process, particularly the pace and secrecy driven by NHS England and the huge cuts East London's NHS is facing.
"I have made it clear that we won't sign up to the Sustainability and Transformation Plan while these concerns remain. I strongly oppose the Conservative Government's chronic underfunding of the NHS. It's not just NHS cuts but also short-sighted cuts to social care and public health services making things harder. With local councillors, I will continue to fight for the funding Tower Hamlets needs and deserves."
Deputy Mayor for Health and Adult Services, Cllr Rachael Saunders, said:
"We need to see far more detail about how services may change and how council services like social care and public health could be affected. We have eight serious concerns that must be addressed before we could consider endorsing the Plan. The Mayor is entirely right to withhold his support as the public need to have their say on the STP before plans are finalised."