The new government has put former health minister Lord Darzi’s major reconfiguration plan for London under review, HSJ has learnt.
Senior sources told HSJ that new health secretary Andrew Lansley had asked the Department of Health to “review” the Healthcare for London plan. The national director for improvement and efficiency, Jim Easton, is understood to have already met with senior managers at the strategic health authority.
The plan – published in 2007 and until this week being implemented across the capital - was criticised both by GPs and acute trusts. GPs objected to the central role it gave to new polyclinics. Acute trusts queried the reliability of estimates it could enable huge reductions in acute activity as care was shifted out of hospitals.
A source told HSJ Mr Lansley “hated” the plan and had implemented the review as one of his first actions as health secretary. Another said the review effectively meant the reconfigurations had been “put to a halt” and that “polysystems are dead and buried”.
Although the new government’s principle objection to the plan is understood to be the way it has alienated the capital’s GPs, the source said the political symbolism of overturning the flagship policy of Gordon Brown’s term as prime minister was also a factor in the decision.
The source said: “It’s a rejection of Darzi, it’s a token gesture.”
But BMA council chairman Hamish Meldrum told HSJ he welcomed the review. “Some of the decisions were not being done for the best clinical reasons,” he said.
Under the Healthcare for London plans 10 health centres have already been opened and primary care trusts have plans to open another 30 during 2010-11, with more planned to follow.
Commissioners have also developed acute reconfiguration plans based on NHS London’s projection that the shift of care out of hospital will allow a 72 per cent reduction in acute activity by 2016-17. But the prospect of acute service closures, particularly at Whittington Hospital and Kingston Hospitals, became politically controversial during the election campaign.
Last week sources warned that any delays to major reconfiguration in the capital would see some London hospital trusts go into deficit this year and that without reform London as a whole may face deficit in 2011-12.