Press Release: The BMA has spoken – STPs will mean hospital closures

[20 November 2016]

dfnhs-press-logoDoctors for the NHS have welcomed the BMA’s latest statement[1] about the true nature of the government’s Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) and point out that these plans – formulated in secret – are going to mean massive and widespread hospital closures, masquerading under false reassurances about ‘centralising’ services.

[1] BMA press statement – see end of notes.

Dr Eric Watts is Chairman of Doctors for the NHS and a consultant haematologist:

“There is a very real danger that there will be more closures of hospital departments and probably hospitals too. It is almost certain that the number of beds will be cut when we need more to cope with increasing demand.

“The arguments made in favour of centralisation fail to recognise the evidence that more people will die if they have further to travel to get treatment.

“Many ambulance services are at full stretch now and will not be able to cope with more cases and greater distances. Published research indicates a 1% increase in death rates for every extra 10 km (six and a quarter miles) travelled.”



Editor’s Notes

Doctors for the NHS (DFNHS) was formed in March 2015 by the NHS Consultants’ Association re-naming itself and asking GPs and medical trainees to join. It has the explicit aim of countering marketisation [1,2] of the NHS by gathering the already impressive evidence (eg, on health funding – see OECD figures below); pointing to its ill effects on NHS services and founding principles; and campaigning widely to stop then repair the damage before it is too late and cannot be reversed.


DFNHS’s press officer is Alan Taman:

07870 757 309


Facebook: DoctorsForTheNHS


OECD expenditure figures

These figures give the lie to the arguments that we can’t afford a publicly funded NHS as other countries spend more public money on health services than we do.

We are 15th overall in total spend and 13th in public spending USA and 11 European countries spend more


[1] Davis, J., Lister, J. and Wrigley, D. (2015) NHS For Sale. London: Merlin Press.

Leys, C. and Player, S. (2011) The Plot Against the NHS. Pontypool: Merlin

Lister, J. (2008) The NHS After 60: For Patients or Profits? London: Middlesex University Press

Owen, D. (2014) The Health of the Nation: The NHS in Peril. York: Methuen, Chapter 4.

Player, S. (2013) ‘Ready for market’. In NHS SOS ed by Davis, J. and Tallis, R. London: Oneworld, pp.38-61.


[2] The belief that ‘competition is always best’ does not work when applied to healthcare. A comprehensive and universal health service is best funded by public donation, which has been shown to be far more efficient overall than private-insurance healthcare models

[Davis, J., Lister, J. and Wrigley, D. (2015) NHS For Sale. London: Merlin Press. Chapters 2 and 8.

Lister, J. (2013) Health Policy Reform: global health versus private profit. Libri: Faringdon.

Pollock, A. and Price, D. (2013) In NHS SOS, ed by Davis, J. and Tallis, R. Oneworld: London, 174.]


BMA Press Statement

BMA Press Release: Embargoed until 00:01, Monday 21 November 2016

NHS transformation plans will have to deliver billions in cuts


BMA analysis has found that NHS sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) will have to deliver £22bn in cuts by 2020/2021 in order to balance health and social care spending across 44 ‘footprint’ areas, raising serious concerns about cuts to services and the impact on patient care.

Officials in each area have been asked by NHS England to predict in their STPs the financial hole they face in their budgets and set out how they can close it. The savings figures were found in papers from 42 of the 44 areas across England.

This comes as a new BMA survey has revealed that over two thirds of doctors say they have not been consulted on STPs2. The survey also shows that a third of doctors have never heard of STPs and a fifth do not support the introduction of the plans.

The BMA believes that sustainability and transformation plans could help develop health policies more suited to local needs and help integrate services across health and social care. However, it has serious concerns about the ways in which some of these plans have been put together and that they will be used as a cover for delivering cuts.

The BMA is calling for:

  • The plans to be published as soon as possible;
  • Genuine public and professional consultation on any proposed changes;
  • All proposals within the plans to be realistic and evidenced based;
  • All STPs to be funded appropriately to ensure they can deliver what has been promised;
  • Improving patient care to be the priority for each and every plan, rather than STPs being used to cut back budgets and services.

This comes ahead of next week’s autumn statement in which it has been reported that much needed additional investment for the NHS has been ruled out.

Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair said:

“Improving patient care must be the number one priority for these plans. Given the scale of the savings required in each area, there is a real risk that these transformation plans will be used as a cover for delivering cuts, starving services of resource and patients of vital care.

“It is extremely concerning that the majority of doctors have not been consulted on the plans, particularly as ministers have been so keen to insist that all stakeholders would be involved.

“STPs have the potential to generate more collaboration and the longer-term planning of services based on local need but it is crucial that any plans about the future of the NHS must be drawn up in an open and transparent way, and have the support and involvement of clinicians, patients and the public from the outset. At this stage nobody can be confident that this has happened.”



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