• STP sought £260m in wave four funding for highest priority schemes
  • Needs more than £500m to fund full transformation plan
  • Latest setback for controversial ambition to reduce secondary care in the area

A major reconfiguration plan for services in north west London has been rebuffed by the centre for the second time.

The north west London sustainability and transformation partnership has been trying to modify primary, community and secondary care on its patch since 2011. Plans include a reduction of the area’s acute services, cutting the number of major hospitals in the area from nine to five.

In July, the STP applied for £260m of wave four capital funding from the Department of Health and Social Care for “the highest priority transformations schemes” within its reconfiguration plan.

Most of this investment would have gone towards augmenting services in several hospitals in the area, paving the way to downgrade Ealing hospital from a major to a local hospital.

But, in the latest setback for what former NHS England chief executive Sir David Nicholson described as the most significant reconfiguration project in the country, DHSC did not approve the STP’s bid in its £963m funding announcement last week.

The STP needs more than £500m to fully fund its plan, entitled Shaping a Healthier Future.

Shaping a Healthier Future courted controversy as soon as it was published in October 2012. Local councils objected to the planned reduction in acute services on their patches.

In 2013, Ealing Council’s leader described the plan as “monstrous”. The council applied for judicial review against the proposal, although the High Court rejected this later that year. 

Despite local challenges, the STP first tried to obtain the half-billion in capital funding last year. However, NHS Improvement rejected the application because the plans were overoptimistic about how much activity could be removed from the acute sector.

The STP told HSJ it is “awaiting clarification on the status of [its] bid”.