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Watchdog welcomes rethink on NHS reorganisation

North Yorkshire’s health watchdog welcomes the Government’s decision to give more time for refining National Health Service plans which threaten to marginalise the needs of rural communities.

North Yorkshire County Council raised serious concerns last month about Sustainability and Transformational Plans (STPs) which will become the funnel for funding health services, but which could concentrate spending in more densely populated urban areas.

The County Council’s Scrutiny of Health Committee said that the new plans could be unduly influenced by the challenges faced in providing services in the urban areas of Middlesborough, Leeds, Bradford and Hull.

The committee has therefore welcomed the Government’s decision to give more time for plans to be finalised. The 30 June 2016 deadline will now merely be for draft plans which “will form the basis for discussion”.

STPs form a key part of NHS planning guidance for the next five years. These place-based plans divide North Yorkshire’s clinical commissioning groups into three urbanised regions for transforming the delivery of health care services:

  • West Yorkshire (11 CCGs to include Harrogate and Rural District and Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven CCG);
  • Durham, Darlington, Tees, Hambleton Richmond and Whitby (6 CCGs);
  • Humber Coast and Vale (6 CCGs to include Scarborough and Ryedale CCG and the Vale of York).

North Yorkshire’s councillors had warned that STPs threatened to sideline the health needs of rural communities.

County Councillor Jim Clark, chair of the Scrutiny of Health committee, has therefore welcomed the Government’s decision to extend the final deadline and allow more time for discussion and review.

Jim Clark said:

Whilst I remain very concerned about the whole process and the configuration of STPs covering North Yorkshire, this new sense of realism should allow more time for local authorities, the voluntary sector, patients and the public to be more involved in the planning process.

This should form the basis for a full public consultation and allow us to turn this potential threat into an opportunity to improve all aspects of health and care across North Yorkshire and to develop new integrated models of primary care which would be local to where people live.

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