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Over half of London doctors have not heard of STPs, says BMA survey


2 November 2016

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Nearly 60% of doctors in London have not heard of sustainability and transformation plans (STPs), a British Medical Association (BMA) survey has found.

NHS England announced the five-year plans in December 2015 to ensure that local areas work together to deliver sustainable healthcare systems in line with the Five Year Forward View.

However, 59% of 615 consultants and GPs surveyed in London said they had not heard of the STPs, when asked about their involvement in the creation of the four STP footprints for the city.

Nearly 60% of doctors in London have not heard of sustainability and transformation plans (STPs), a British Medical Association (BMA) survey has found.

NHS England announced the five-year plans in December 2015 to ensure that local areas work together to deliver sustainable healthcare systems in line with the Five Year Forward View.

However, 59% of 615 consultants and GPs surveyed in London said they had not heard of the STPs, when asked about their involvement in the creation of the four STP footprints for the city.

The BMA surveyed 277 GPs and 338 consultants in London.

Each of the 44 footprints in England are made up of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), local authorities, NHS trusts and other healthcare organisations.

When asked whether they felt they could influence decisions made by their CCG, 82% of consultants and GPs said they did not feel they could even though CCGs are membership organisations.

Dr David Paynton, the national clinical lead at the Royal College of General Practitioners’ Centre for Commissioning, told GPs at today’s Commissioning Live event in Liverpool that “gatecrashing” the STP process was the only way of securing funding for general practice going forward.

He said: “Whilst we need to hold the politicians to account for some of the things they say, this money is not going to come down to us except through the STPs so I think there’s a message here: We’ve got to gatecrash that party.

“We’ve got to be involved in it – that’s where the decisions are being made in your local area about where the funding will go,” he said.

Dr Gary Marlowe, BMA London regional council chair, said the results of the survey are “extremely concerning”.

He said: “Of those who are aware, many are concerned this is merely a means of delivering cuts to NHS services, though some others see this as an opportunity for localised long-term strategic planning in health.

“The difficulty is that doctors haven’t been told enough about STPs to fully understand their impact and to decide if their concerns have been addressed.

"As we’ve seen in the debate over NHS funding in recent days, many services are at risk of financial collapse and meaningful input into STPs from clinicians, who understand what is happening on the front line, is essential.

“The BMA is encouraging doctors to seek contact with their STP lead and to find out more about what’s happening locally but NHS providers, CCGs, local authorities and other health and care services must work harder to engage medical professionals if they are seeking support for their efforts.” 

Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), said in her speech at the RCGP conference last month that “very few” STPs contain funding pledges for general practice.

She added that if STPs fail to fund general practice, primary care could lose up to £760m by 2020/21.

The RCGP launched an ambassador scheme in July to help implement NHS England’s GP Forward View in the transformation plans.

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