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STP lead role is ‘unsustainable’, says think tank report


14 November 2016

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Sustainability and transformation plan leaders have said their role is “unsustainable” in a new report from The King’s Fund.

In the report, which focuses on the development of STPs and based on interviews with senior leaders in four anonymous footprints, many said they “had found it difficult to manage their existing responsibilities alongside their STP leadership role”.

Sustainability and transformation plan leaders have said their role is “unsustainable” in a new report from The King’s Fund.

In the report, which focuses on the development of STPs and based on interviews with senior leaders in four anonymous footprints, many said they “had found it difficult to manage their existing responsibilities alongside their STP leadership role”.

The STP leaders, nearly half of whom are also CCG leaders, also said there was a “need to be given more formal authority over local decision-making and powers to make changes to services in practice”.

The lack of clarity from NHS officials on these issues has led at least one STP lead to consider leaving the role.

They told the King’s Fund: “At some stage, certain people like me probably get to a position and say, ‘actually, I am just going to go back to my day job’, because it is quite challenge doing all of this in a sea of fog.”

The report also criticised NHS England's efforts to keep the plans secret.

The King's Fund found national NHS bodies has asked STP leaders “to keep details of draft STPs out of the public domain”.

It said: “This included instructions to actively reject Freedom of Information Act requests (FOIs) to see draft plans.”

It said there were “two main reasons were given for this”. The first was “that national NHS leaders wanted to be able to ‘manage’ the STP narrative at a national level – particularly where plans might involve politically sensitive changes to hospital services”.

The second was that “national leaders did not want draft proposals to be made public until they had agreed on their content”.

Despite this, King's Fund chief executive Chris Ham 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.”

He added that the NHS was under “unprecedented pressure” and that “if STPs do not work then there is no plan B”.

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