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NHS chiefs accused of secretiveness over planned £500m CEP cuts

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BMA officials have accused senior health service managers in England of refusing to release details of large cuts under the capped expenditure process (CEP) regime.

First revealed in April this year, the CEP aims to impose tight financial controls in 13 poorly performing sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs). The savings required to meet the control totals across the areas are said to amount to around £500m.

Under the CEP, NHS staff have been told to consider ‘unthinkable’ cuts including extending waiting times, cutting down prescriptions and treatments, and merging or closing facilities in a bid to meet financial control targets.

The STPs subject to the CEP are reported to have submitted plans. The Health Service Journal has reported that NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has told managers to make progress with delivering the savings.

The journal has also reported the planned savings may have been watered down in some areas.

The areas involved include Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset; Cambridgeshire and Peterborough; Cheshire (Eastern, Vale Royal and South); Cornwall; Devon; Morecambe Bay; Northumberland; North Central London; North Lincolnshire; North West London; South East London; Staffordshire; Surrey and Sussex; Vale of York and Scarborough and Ryedale.

The BMA reports that it has written to NHS Improvement and each of the 13 areas involved requesting the proposal documents, but health leaders have not provided plans and few local areas have released details.

NHS managers told the BMA that releasing details would ‘prejudice’ ongoing financial negotiations.

Further information

BMA: Refusal to discuss ‘unthinkable’ cuts

BMJPlans for major NHS cuts are shrouded in secrecy, warns BMA

HSJSavings drive softened after ‘top-down pressure’ complaints

HSJStevens: capped expenditure areas must ‘get on with’ savings

King’s Fund: The capped expenditure process explained