Revealing Northamptonshire's staffing predicitions would impact on employees' 'mental health' claim bosses

Northamptonshire health bosses plan to save 230 million over the next five years. But predictions on staffing levels are being hidden.
Northamptonshire health bosses plan to save 230 million over the next five years. But predictions on staffing levels are being hidden.
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Despite the county’s five-year NHS savings plans costing £720,000 to produce,  health bosses have refused the Chron’s attempts to see predicted staff numbers because it would “impact on the mental health” of employees.

A fortnight ago the Chronicle & Echo revealed private consultancy firm Mckinsey's were given £500,000 to draw up Northamptonshire's Sustainability and Transformation Plan - or STP for short.

Northamptonshire's five ear health plans cost 720,000 to produce.

Northamptonshire's five ear health plans cost 720,000 to produce.

Various other consultants were given £220,000 between them, though the 72-page STP gives slim detail about how the service will transform.

The document sets out the vision for the county's health services over the next five years and outlines how the various county bodies will meet a £230 million savings target.

A Freedom of information request posed by the Chron in January asked NHS Nene to reveal its predictions on the number of clinicians it will need to meet growing demand for patients.

But the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has refused our request.

In its response, the organisation that commissions health in the county, said: “It is NHS Nene CCG’s opinion that to disclose the information sought regarding staffing could detrimentally impact upon the [mental]health of those individuals involved as it would disclose inaccurate and incomplete information.”

It goes on to say that “at this time” the CCG is “unable to take a view” on the impact for staff.

It adds: “The CCG is currently working on the delivery plans that will enable is undertake workforce planning at a sufficient level of granularity [detail].”

But the refusal will no doubt anger who feel the county’s five-year health plans are vague and incomprehensible.

One question the Chron posed to the program director for the STP, James Murray, was why the plans refer to detail contained within a set of appendices that are not publicly available.

He said it was because they were “very long and detailed” and may not make sense to the average reader.

But when pressed about the vagueness of the £10,000-per-page plans - he said: “It is something we do take on board - as part of that there is a consultation phase and, with that, an engagement plan, we need to make sure things are as understandable as possible to the wider population.”

"At the moment. we have a high-level strategic document that sets the direction of travel, what we now have to do is work around the detail.”