STPs: will they be deliverable?
As winter approaches, NHS managers in England will be even busier than usual. Handling the increased volume of emergency admissions to hospitals and juggling demands for beds will be as tough as ever. On top of that will be a raft of meetings discussing the potentially most radical shake-up of health services in decades.
The sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) being produced in 44 local areas of England are seen as vital ingredients in the redesign of care to cope with increasing patient demand. The plans will focus on trying to moderate that demand and treat more patients away from hospitals. But there has been no denying that some of the plans will see closures of accident and emergency units and hospital wards, concentrating services on fewer sites.
The STP process has got off to a difficult start. Accusations of cover-ups and stealth cuts have been fuelled by the King’s Fund report, which said local health teams had been asked by the NHS nationally to keep the plans out of the public gaze.
Local campaigners, fearing closures, are gearing up to take to the streets to defend local hospitals. There could be a winter and spring of discontent ahead.
A bigger question raised by the King’s Fund report was whether the STPs would be deliverable. Local health leaders have enough on their shoulders with the day-to-day running of services, never mind managing ambitious and sometimes controversial transformation plans.
Investment for a shake-up of local care provision will be hard to come by in stretched budgets. Will these STP plans be deliverable? Post your views on this blog.