William Eichler 21 September 2017

STPs ‘under pressure’ and ‘under funded’, survey reveals

STPs ‘under pressure’ and ‘under funded’, survey reveals

Sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) are ‘under pressure’ as local authorities and health organisations struggle to integrate, survey reveals.

A new poll from CIPFA and iMPOWER found 55 of the 56 respondents do not believe full joint working will be achieved in the next five years.

The survey also showed a quarter believe relationships are currently ‘limited’, while 54% believe them to be ‘reasonable’ and only 21% ‘very strong’.

STPs are partnerships between the NHS and local councils designed to improve collaboration within the health and care sector. There are currently 44 in existence.

Commenting on the results from the survey, CIPFA’s chief executive, Rob Whiteman, said: ‘While it is now clear what the overall ambitions are for STPs, the survey released today highlights there may be major barriers to achieving these.

‘The survey shows that there are some significant concerns with regard to joint working, which is vital to the success of STPs. Therefore, serious care and attention must now be paid to building relationships and trust between partners.’

The findings also raised questions over the financial capacity of STPs to invest in important prevention measures.

Around 95% of respondents agreed that investing in prevention is essential or important. However, only one in six (15%) expect to be able to use any of the additional £2bn announced in the Spring Budget towards prevention activities.

Research from CIPFA and iMPOWER, in fact, indicates that almost all of the available budgets this year will be spent meeting operational challenges or sustaining the market for local providers.

‘As well as ensuring working relationships are in place for STPs to achieve their desired outcomes, there also needs to be suitable levels of funding,’ said Mr Whiteman.

‘Otherwise, there is the danger that the targets that have been set will turn out to be financially unachievable.’

Martin Cresswell, chief executive of iMPOWER, said: ‘The survey shows that there is huge level of agreement around priorities, and an unchallenged view that working together is critical. But relationships, national imperatives and funding are the enablers, and we must address these.

‘Unlocking the interface between health and social care is vital to the success of future models of delivery – and this includes looking at reducing demand as well as improving outcomes for adults and children.’

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