What are STPs and why do they matter?

Sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) are place-based plans for improving health and care services in 44 areas of England. They set out how the NHS five year forward view will be delivered locally and mark a decisive shift away from the focus on competition as a means of improving health services by requiring NHS organisations to collaborate with each other and with local partners. STPs have had a difficult beginning, attracting criticism for the lack of involvement of patients, the public and staff; insufficient engagement with local authorities; and in some case for proposing controversial changes to hospital services.

The NHS needs to develop new ways of delivering care in response to the changing needs of patients. It must also improve productivity in order to bridge a financial gap estimated to be £22 billion by 2020/21. Delivering these objectives requires NHS organisations to work together and with local partners to break down barriers between services and to tackle waste and variations in care.

STPs were produced to a tight deadline that made it difficult to engage meaningfully with stakeholders. Guidance from NHS England and other national bodies emphasised the need for plans to show how they would achieve financial balance as well as how they would improve services. The plans submitted in October 2016 describe what providers need to do to deliver efficiency improvements and what changes in service delivery are being proposed in each area.

Full article from the Kings Fund, 16 May 2017