STPs: Radical local modernisation plans or the end of the NHS as we know it?

To some, they are bold, painful, inevitably controversial but nevertheless necessary local blueprints designed to save the NHS in England, area by area, by making it fit for the clinical, financial and organisational challenges it is facing. To others, though, they are sinister schemes that will see parts of, or even entire hospitals shut, fewer beds, the number of GP surgeries drastically reduced, NHS land sold to profiteers and private healthcare firms treating more NHS patients. What an NHS boss calls modernisation is an NHS campaigner’s road to destruction.

Back in March, the NHS England chief executive, Simon Stevens, outlined the importance of STPs when he declared that: “Now is the time to confront – not duck – the big local choices needed to improve health and care across England over the next five years, and STPs are a way of doing this. Their success will largely depend on the extent to which local leaders and communities now come together to tackle deep-seated and longstanding challenges that require shared cross-organisational action.”

Six months on, England has been divided into 44 STP “footprints”. Each is a collaboration between all the statutory bodies in that area involved in health and social care – such as NHS trusts and clinical commissioning groups, and local councils, which fund social care. NHS England describes them as “collective discussion forums” and Stevens sees them as evidence of unprecedented cooperation between organisations which historically have done their own thing.

Full story in The Guardian 7 September 2016