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Sadiq Khan has called for a greater role in the NHS in the capital and set out six key assurances needed from government to ensure Londoners get the best healthcare possible.
Khan’s call comes following recommendations from independent experts which raises concerns about the impact NHS’s partnerships with councils will have on hospital capacity.
A report published by The King’s Fund and Nuffield Trust shows that greater city-wide leadership is needed to implement the five local NHS Sustainability and Transformation plans (STPs) for London successfully, which set out proposals for the future of health and care services.
STPs are plans for the future of health and care services in England. Five have been developed in London, covering North West, North Central, North East, South West and South East services.
The report also outlines risks presented by the proposals including the potential impact on hospital capacity.
It recommends that the Mayor should play a leadership role and provide oversight of the STPs to ensure there is proper coordination across the capital and that the plans meet the needs of all those who live in London.
Sadiq Khan has said he is willing to provide the strategic leadership required, but has warned that before he will give support for any changes to NHS services in the capital the government must provide key assurances.
The six assurances the Mayor requires to give his support to the STPs are: patient and public engagement; clinical support; impact on health inequality; impact on social care; hospital capacity; and sufficient investment.
The report also suggests the Mayor can provide leadership on health by: working with the NHS to tackle workforce shortages and concerns about the impact of Brexit; developing London as a global leader in life sciences; supporting changes in the delivery of NHS services; making better use of the NHS estate by releasing unused NHS property to help with the capital’s housing crisis; and providing leadership in the prevention of ill health and on tackling health inequalities.
Since the abolition of the Strategic Health Authority for London in 2012, there has been no similar pan-London leadership role in the capital. The Mayor brings together the NHS, local authority leaders and Public Health England. The Mayor and partners have also been working with government to push for greater devolution of health to London.
Sadiq Khan said: “I want London to have a world-class health service and have promised to champion and challenge the NHS at all times to achieve this, and to make sure Londoners have access to excellent health and care services.
“Any plans around the future of NHS services in London must be given proper investment, and must not have an adverse impact on health inequalities, social care or hospital capacity. I also want every assurance that our heroic doctors, nurses and health and care professionals get all the support they need to realise these plans, and that Londoners and patients are properly consulted. By working together, with a city-wide vision, we can ensure that Londoners get the best healthcare possible.”
Chris Ham, chief executive of The King’s Fund, said: “Patients can be reassured that the plans set the right direction for the future of health services in London, and the focus on preventing ill health, providing more services in the community and joining up health and social care is to be applauded. However, some of the financial assumptions underpinning the plans are questionable and proposals to reduce hospital beds are not credible. It is essential that NHS staff, local authorities, patients and the public are now involved in developing and implementing the plans. The Mayor has an important role to play by working with NHS and local authority partners to ensure care is effectively co-ordinated across the capital.”
Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust, added: “The STP process has helped local organisations forge new relationships and set in train plans for reforming care that are long overdue. But our analysis finds that many of their assumptions about reducing the amount of hospital activity may be overly optimistic, given demographic and financial pressures.”