Health group chief who supports Orsett closure welcomes NHS plan for prevention

Dr Anita Donley

THE head of the organisation recommending closure of Orsett hospital says she welcome the government’s new ten year strategy for the NHS, announced yesterday by prime minister Theresa May.

Dr Anita Donley, OBE is chair of the Mid and South Essex sustainability and transformation partnership (STP) which is charged with managing changes to healthcare provision in the regions.

The organisation has backed plans to close Orsett Hospital and replace it with four integrated medical centres across, though some services may be displaced to venues out the borough.

The Government’s long-term plan was unveiled on Monday and sets out how a £20billion budget increase will be spent. It puts the focus on prevention and early detection by shifting focus away from hospitals in favour of services that are often neglected.

It includes committing £4.5billion to GPs and community care and £2.3billion to mental health.

This is expected to pay for mental health support in schools, community support that will allow patients to be discharged from hospitals sooner and more options for GPs to tackle social problems.

NHS England claims the measures will help them to save up to 500,000 lives.

The focus on prevention and improved GP services echoes the priorities laid out in a plan for healthcare in Essex created by the (STP) and Dr Donley says: “We welcome the publication of the NHS Long Term Plan and the priorities it contains. The plan is a helpful blueprint for change which reflects many of our own ambitions and the work we are already doing as a health and care partnership to shape our care for the future.

“Building on the conversations we are having with the public and our staff we now have the opportunity to shape what the NHS Long Term Plan means for our area, and how we can continue to improve the health and wellbeing of the communities we serve.”

The £118million STP plan was approved in July and represents the county’s biggest NHS shake-up in a generation.

However, its future has been uncertain since October when Southend council formally requested a review by health secretary Matt Hancock due to concerns it could be harmful to patients.

Thurrock Council has subsequently agreed to make their own referral.

This means the plans cannot progress for months and may have to be changed if the health secretary sides with the councils. The STP did not confirm whether the publication of the Government’s plan may also mean their plan has to change.

One area the Government fails to address in their new plan is how to grow the healthcare workforce.

Many parts of Essex are facing a crisis in number of GPs and nurses but the plan states that funding for training, education and professional development has not been set and a “workforce implementation plan” will be published later in the year.