Will NHS transformation plans kill or cure the health service? – Harry Quilter-Pinner, IPPR

Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, sees it differently: “Now is quite obviously the time to confront … the big local choices needed to improve health and care across England.” For him, STPs are a way of delivering the reforms he set out in the NHS Five Year Forward View (pdf) and the £22bn of efficiency savings he promised to the government, while maintaining or improving the quality of care.

As details of the STPs have been made public and the extent of the winter crisis in the NHS has become apparent, the debate about their role in the health service has become dangerously polarised. The question is whether these controversial plans will prove to be kill or cure. Based on a detailed analysis of all 44 plans, we at IPPR think the reality is probably more nuanced and complex than either side let on.

On the one hand, it’s clear that some elements of the argument made by campaigning groups – for example, that the government is knowingly underfunding the health and care service – stack up. Our analysis shows that every STP area is forecast to be in deficit by 2020-21, and these deficits total more than £24bn. For Theresa May and (somewhat more reluctantly) Simon Stevens to suggest that this financial gap can be closed through reform alone is disingenuous to say the least.

On the other hand, campaigners are wrong to argue that the reform agenda is simply about delivering dangerous cuts. The NHS cannot stand still as the world transforms around it. Instead, it must respond to growing demographic pressures; new evidence about what works and what doesn’t; and cutting edge technologies that can transform health and care.

Full story in The Guardian, 31 January 2017