Significant changes to health care services are no longer hidden

The deliberate hiding from public view of STP changes to how and where patients are cared for in Hampshire is now over – earlier than NHS England planned. The public debate about what NHS services need to look like in order for the country’s most cherished institution to survive is now under way, and not before time.

There is, however, only a very short time window for any public consultation. The GPs who have been involved in drawing up these five-year plans have roles on clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and do not necessarily represent the views of their peers.

This has generated criticism as there appears to have been little input from grassroots GPs. Like other STPs, its key priorities are prevention, early intervention, self-care and reducing health inequalities as well as primary, community and acute care collaboration.

All worthy goals, so why keep the plan secret for so long?

Reconfiguration of hospital services – NHS-speak for shutting things such as A&E and maternity units – is a key part of their plans.

 NHS Improvement last month told the leaders of the 44 STP footprints to plan for “the consolidation of unsustainable services”. The growing fear among NHS campaigners is that the definition of “unsustainable” has already been agreed behind closed doors, and that it will lead to a huge reorganisation of NHS services.