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i reveals proposed closure of 19 NHS hospitals in new investigation

The recently formed Johnston Press Investigations Unit has been investigating the NHS and the results are being unveiled in the i paper this week.

Author: News Desk

Posted on: 14 February 2017 09:22

i reveals proposed closure of 19 NHS hospitals in new investigation

Aasma Day: "The more the Investigations Team looked into the proposals, the more issues kept emerging."

i today reveals the proposed closure of 19 NHS hospitals across the country – including five major acute hospitals – as part of the biggest healthcare shake-up in a generation, say the publishers.

The major investigation, carried out by Johnston Press Investigations Unit and published in Tuesday’s edition of i, reveals plans for sweeping reforms – aimed at plugging a £22bn black hole in funding and getting community health providers to work more closely together.

The proposed shutting of 19 hospitals would be accompanied by the closure of more than 2,000 beds in acute and community hospitals, says i, along with the loss of nearly 3,000 jobs to create a ‘smaller, more agile’ workforce. Emergency and maternity care also faces a major re-organisation with dozens of units marked for closure or downgrading, while in some areas specialist beds would be restricted to those who require a minimum stay of 48 hours. Hundreds of millions of pounds are expected to be saved by cutting prescription costs and by rationing operations.

Known as Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs), the proposals emerged after more than a year of consultations between 440 NHS organisations and 152 local authorities. The Johnston Press Investigations team analysed 44 regional blueprints drawn up by health service leaders to remodel the NHS in England.

Until now, these STPs have been almost unknown to the public. Doctors’ leaders tell i that the plans are a ‘cover for cuts’ and pose a threat to the founding principles of the NHS.

Oly Duff, editor at i, said: "Until recently, these proposals were buried by health chiefs because they were considered too explosive for public consumption. Such profound changes to the NHS need critical and informed public debate. This is one of the largest news investigations into the future of the NHS ever undertaken - and we hope that our stories encourage serious scrutiny of the proposals."

Aasma Day, lead investigative reporter at the Johnston Press Investigations Unit, said: "People care passionately about the NHS which is often described as the envy of the world. Although the STP plans seem to be proposing a major shakeup of the NHS, the public seems to be in the dark as there has been little or no consultation to the point where many people do not even know what STPs are.

"The more the Investigations Team looked into the proposals, the more issues kept emerging. If the NHS that people hold so dearly to their hearts is going to undergo radical changes, our readers have a right to know and it is our duty to give them the full picture about any proposed cuts or closures."

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