William Eichler 14 November 2016

Councillors should be ‘at the heart’ of designing STPs

Councillors should be ‘at the heart’ of designing STPs  image

Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) are ‘important’ for redesigning local health and care services, but councillors need to be ‘at the heart’ of the planning process, council chiefs say.

Responding to a new report on sustainability and transformation plans from think tank The Kings Fund, the Local Government Association (LGA) has called for councillors and communities to be more involved with developing STPs.

The Kings Fund report said STPs, which are plans for the future of health and care in 44 areas of England, ’offer the best hope to improve health and care services’, but it acknowledged they were ‘beset’ with problems.

The think tank said local government involvement with STPs was ‘patchy’ and there had not been enough time to adequately involve clinicians, frontline staff, patients or the wider public.

They also warned those involved in formulating the transformation plans were ‘struggling with a confused process’ and ‘operating in a sea of fog’.

The King’s Fund pointed to the Health and Social Care Act 2012 as an obstacle to drawing up the STPs. The act had created a complex system and its focus on competition makes it more difficult for organisations to work collaboratively.

Titled Sustainability and Transformation Plans in the NHS, the report warned that due to NHS funding pressures local leaders ‘lack confidence’ in some of the assumptions and projections contained within the STPs.

However, despite these concerns, the think tank urged the Government and the NHS to continue supporting the sustainability and transformation plans - but it made a number of recommendations.

All parts of the health and care system, as well as the public, they advised, should be involved in the plans. Governance should be improved and clarified, and the assumptions contained within the plans should be ‘stress tested’ by the NHS.

Chris Ham, chief executive of The King’s Fund, said: ‘The introduction of STPs has been beset by problems and has been frustrating for many of those involved, but it is vital that we stick with them.

‘For all the difficulties over the last few months, their focus on organisations in each area working together is the right approach for improving care and meeting the needs of an ageing population. It is also clear that our health and care system is under unprecedented pressure, and if STPs do not work then there is no plan B.

’The progress made so far has only happened because of the hard work of local leaders who have been prepared to work around the difficulties. It is vital that NHS national bodies learn the lessons so far, so that we can see STPs fulfil their potential.’

Responding to the report, the chairman of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, said: ‘Councils see STPs as an important vehicle for driving the redesign of local health and care services to improve health and wellbeing, keep people out of hospital and improve the quality of care.

‘But we have warned that for STPs to be effective, councillors and communities need to be at the heart of the planning process, not consulted afterwards on pre-determined solutions.’

Cllr Seccombe said the LGA had pushed for the implementation of STPs to be ‘underpinned by local political leadership and with the full engagement of local communities.’

‘Health and wellbeing boards, as the only place where local political, clinical and professional leaders come together, can be pivotal in driving these forward if they are fully involved in the work of STPs,’ she said.

The councillor also warned the plans should recognise the ‘huge financial pressures’ facing social care.

Mr Ham told The MJ (£) there was little evidence that such ‘radical reconfigurations’ would actually achieve the financial savings in the NHS and local government.

Maintaining performance image

Maintaining performance

The 15 strongest performing councils in adult social care have been highlighted in IMPOWER’s latest productivity INDEX. Ralph Cook looks at the results.
Revolutionising mental health image

Revolutionising mental health

Cllr Jasmine Ali explains how Southwark Council is putting plans into action to revolutionise children’s mental health in Southwark.
SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Social Worker - Family Support & Protection

Essex County Council
£30300 - £41475 per annum + plus benefits
We are one of the most effective and progressive Children and Families Service in the country. Our vision is to support families through strengths bas England, Essex, Basildon
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Senior Sustainability & Resilience Officer

Essex County Council
£30001.0 - £34017 per annum
This opportunity is to be offered on a 6-month, fixed term / secondment contract basisInterviews scheduled to be held Friday 17th April Job Purpose Es England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Senior Social Worker or Senior OT - Older Adults Team

Essex County Council
£38400 - £46475 per annum
Interviews for this role will take place via video calling using Microsoft Teams.Seeking skilled, motivated Senior Social Workers and Senior OT's who England, Essex, Colchester
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Principal Litigation Solicitor

Thanet District Council
Starting Salary £41,676 per annum, with opportunity for progression to £47,508 per annum.
We are a small and friendly team and are looking to expand with a number of senior legal roles Thanet, Kent
Recuriter: Thanet District Council

Information Governance and Equalities Manager

Thanet District Council
Starting salary of £38,916 per annum, with opportunity for progression to £44,352 per annum
We are a small and friendly team and are looking to expand with a number of senior legal roles Thanet, Kent
Recuriter: Thanet District Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue