Government demands ‘concrete progress’ on STPs

The government’s instructions to the NHS this year call for “concrete progress on local sustainability and transformation plans” and say it must deliver “the productivity and efficiency gains necessary to maintain financial balance”.

The Department of Health published its annual mandate to NHS England today, more than three months later than usual. One of the reasons for its delay was vexed debate between government and NHS England over delivery and accountability, particularly on STPs, financial performance and emergency care.

Parts of government have been disappointed that many STPs didn’t produce robust cost-saving actions in their first year. Many feel they didn’t make good progress.

The document says in future “a number of metrics will be used to measure progress across STP footprints in delivering the Five Year Forward View, linking performance of the NHS at a local level more explicitly to national accountability”, though no further detail is given on these.

The document also states:

  • The four hour emergency waiting target should be met by the end of the 2018 calendar year – slightly later than the previous expectation.
  • Other headline targets must be met immediately – prompting NHS Providers to say the “gap between demands on the health service and the resources available in the coming year remains unbridgeable”.

In a foreword to the mandate, health secretary Jeremy Hunt says: “2017-18 should be the year in which we see concrete progress on local sustainability and transformation plans… As partof this effort, the government has already made £325m of capital funding available for the best STPs over the next three years. In the autumn a further round of local proposals will be considered.

Full story in the HSJ, 21 March 2017