Slow August news: why Sustainability and Transformation Plan proposals are a public matter
Everyone expects some slow news days in August, especially after the wild excesses of the Brexit pantomime, and then the heady patriotic delight of the Olympics, but the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) proposals as national headline news - are you serious?
Well yes – the STP proposals are significant to real patients and communities, outside the health policy and planning bubble. In retrospect we should not be surprised that the press have leapt on this story. In each health economy and at a national level, the STPs represent one of the biggest and most far reaching reforms of patterns of service provision the NHS has ever attempted.
The case for STPs radical service redesign at pace to deliver the Five Year Forward View (5YFV) is obvious to health insiders. How else can we deliver the £22bn of savings which are required under the current spending review settlement. The reality is that outside that health bubble, however, the scale of the changes proposed and the practical implications are really not understood.
The challenge is that the service change case, which has to be at the heart of public patient and community engagement and consultation, has thus far been secondary to the business case; the savings numbers that the STPs are charged to deliver. How new care models will deliver better and cheaper care is still a subject of think tank debate not accepted public wisdom. So when those STPs have been finally crafted and polished, the hard yards of exhaustive, credible engagement will still need to be done – welcome to Autumn 16!