23rd December sign off deadline for Sustainability & Transformation Plan two year contracts

You might find this information useful when you ask your Council Leader to publish the Footprint Sustainability and Transformation Plan for your area.

The Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) that were sent to NHS England on 21 October are the Final STP Delivery Plans – NOT drafts that are subject to consultation.

In order to start operational delivery of their Sustainability and Transformation Plan, Clinical Commissioning Groups have to sign two year operational contracts with NHS providers on 23 Dec 2016. This is for the first two years of the STPs: 2017/18-2019/20. The contracts will take effect on 1 April 2017.

NHS England’s instructions on STPs and two year operating plans for 2017/18 and 2018/19 say (p21):

“…it is vital that we move on swiftly with operating plans which deliver on the visions agreed within STPs.

Final STP Delivery Plans, to be submitted in October by each footprint,will set out how individual organisations will play their part in delivering their locally agreed STP objectives, including sustainable financial balance across the health economy. Delivery plans will form the starting point for two-year, organisation level operating plans for 2017/18 and 2018/19, with collaborative actions across local health economies supported where appropriate by system control totals.”

System control totals are financial limits that NHS England is imposing across the STP “Footprint” area. It means that individual NHS organisations may no longer control their own budgets if the STP Board – or whatever governance process is in place for a process that has been described as outside the law – decides that in order to meet the system control total, an individual hospital or other NHS organisation has to make cuts or changes.

NO time for public consultation on the STP Final Delivery Plans

The December 23rd deadline for signing operational contracts for the first two years of the STPs (2017/18 – 2018/19)  allows NO time for public consultation,  even if the STPs had been published a few days after being sent to NHS England on 21st October, as was originally intended.

In a late change of plan NHS England instructed the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) Leaders not to publish the Final STP Delivery Plans once they had sent them in to NHS England.

Instead NHS England told them to publish summaries within local organisations’ board papers by mid-December – but only after NHS England’s Communications staff have made sure they are spun in  way that  “gives the public a good understanding of the proposed changes” and that they “articulate tangible benefits for patients” in language that is “clear and compelling”.

Roger Davidson, NHS England head of media and public policy, is responsible for contacting Footprint STP communications leads to begin this process.

It is rather weird that NHS England is so anxious to spin the Final STPs that they won’t allow them to be published, when one of the questions they asked these STPs to set out is the “degree of local consensus among organisations” and
“how you have held meaningful strategic conversations with both NHS Boards, CCG Governing Bodies and local government leaders”.

The other reason NHS England has told STP Leaders not to publish the Final STP Delivery Plans is because NHS England and NHS Improvement have to go over the STP figures and make sure they match the commissioner and provider financial control totals imposed by NHS England in July, in the so-called financial reset document.

Council leaders across England, with very few exceptions, are telling the public they know doodly squat about what’s in the STPs. (Of course, this might not be the truth.)

If it is the truth, the STP Agony Aunt thinks Councils have been negligent in failing to exercise due diligence on behalf of the public whose interests they are supposed to uphold and represent. Councils have the power, and a duty to use that power, to scrutinise significant changes to the NHS in their area. The STPs are significant changes to the NHS

If it is not the case, why are they not telling us what’s in the STPs?


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