Many constituents have contacted me about Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) in the NHS, and public consultation, particularly with reference to an Opposition Day Debate in the House of Commons on this subject which was scheduled for Wednesday 7 September, 2016.
The debate in question did not ultimately take place, as the Labour Party’s leadership (which decides how Opposition time is used) withdrew this motion at short notice and initiated a debate on the Paris Climate Change Agreement in its place. [Update: The debate was rescheduled for 14 September 2016. Nigel’s statement on the issues raised in correspondence remains the following- ]
However, let me take this opportunity to respond on the issues raised:
The Government acknowledges that local governments are vital in helping to set the strategic direction of health and care service development locally. STP footprints are not statutory bodies, they are collaborations of organisations working together to join up care for patients across agreed areas, and to ensure there is a shared strategy to improve health and care across the whole community. Each organisation within the STP collaboration retains their usual duties to engage local people on any new proposals.
The Government is asking for robust local plans for engagement as part of the STP process. Where relevant, footprint areas should build on existing engagement through health and wellbeing boards and other existing local arrangements.
STPs will need to be developed with, and based upon, the needs of local patients and communities and command the support of clinicians, staff and wider partners such as local government. Health and health care cannot be transformed without the active engagement of the clinicians and staff who actually deliver it, nor can we develop care integrated around the needs of patients and users without understanding what our communities want.
Each area is responsible for engaging local people and stakeholders on their draft proposals. The success of STPs will depend on having an open and engaging process that involves patients, carers, citizens, clinicians, local community partners, parliamentarians, the independent and voluntary sectors, and local government through health and wellbeing boards. Where plans propose service changes, formal consultation will follow in due course. The arm’s length bodies will be holding conversations with each area to assess their plans for local engagement.