STPs – not sticky toffee puddings

By Rachel Allan, senior account director, ZPB

STPs – Sustainability and Transformation plans (or partnerships) are the initiative du jour. Developed as a vehicle to support, and more recently, implement the Five Year Forward Viewthey are either hailed as the answer to all ills or a slightly odd collection of vanguards, ACOs,  ACSs and well-meaning local initiatives.

The future for STPs looks unsure with Labour stating in their manifesto they would ‘halt and review’ them and the Conservatives stating their intention to make ‘non-legislative changes to remove barriers to the integration of care’ if the NHS internal market ‘fails to act in the interests of patients and creates costly bureaucracy’.

Nevertheless, against a backdrop of uncertainty, activity continues. There are no shortage of initiatives which aim to improve the way local organisations can work together and those that seek to take advantage of emerging technology.

The big question is can these innovative ideas deliver the transformation the NHS sorely needs?

As it stands it seems unlikely and the looming reviews and non-legislative changes trailed in the manifestos of the two biggest parties suggest further change is on the horizon.

Senior NHS leaders attended the event Sustainability and Transformation Plans – moving towards implementation and delivery event held at The Kings Fund on May 24 2017, however there were very few representatives from the private sector. One STP mentioned that they were looking to hold sessions where the NHS could explain problems and the private sector could ‘jam’ solutions. Another STP said it wasn’t their role to come up with all the solutions but again details on how the independent sector could collaborate was not made clear.

There is real progress happening in reshaping the local structures and how NHS and partners work together and there is political pressure mounting to push this to happen more quickly. Maybe in time similar pressure will be applied to ensure there is more proactive engagement between the NHS and private sector partners. Transformation cannot take place in a bubble.

#NHS #STPs #transformation