Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) offer a great opportunity to improve the NHS, but must be backed up by government investment, a report by the King’s Fund has found.
The analysis of all 44 STPs states that the plans aim to deliver more services in the community, by ‘bringing together’ primary care, community services and social care
Other proposals outlined in the plans include initiatives to reduce the number of hospitals, cut hospital beds and centralise some services on fewer sites. According to the King’s Fund, improvements to community services must be made before reductions to the acute sector can be made.
‘It is not credible for the government to argue that it has backed the NHS’s own plan unless it is prepared to support changes to services outlined in STPs,’ said Chris Ham, chief executive of The King’s Fund. ‘Local plans must be considered on their merits, but where a convincing case for change has been made, ministers and local politicians should back NHS leaders in implementing essential and often long-overdue changes to services.
The analysis also shows that many STPs aim to reduce the impact of staff shortages. Several contain proposals concerning new roles such as care navigators, nurse associates and physician associates to support moving services from hospital settings and into the community.
A huge effort is needed make up lost ground by engaging with staff, patients and the public to explain the case for change and the benefits that will be delivered,’ added Mr Ham.