Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP’s)

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2017 Health Care Service Group Conference
15 December 2016

Conference notes that Sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) are plans for the future health and care services in England and were to support the NHS to deliver the changes set out in the ‘5 Year Forward View’.

They first appeared in planning guidance at the end of 2015 and their original purpose was to:

1)Improve care quality and efficiency

2)Develop new models of care

3)Promote prevention and public health

These could be seen as laudable aims and indeed there was the positive prospect that they could potentially signal a decisive shift from the market place which the Health and Social Care Act 2012 put at the centre of the legislation by the need for collaboration rather than competition between organisations.

Conference further notes (and will not be surprised)! however that these aims were quickly subverted and the emphasis shifted to focus on how STPs can bring the NHS into financial balance through rigid central control exemplified by the ‘financial reset’ in the middle of 2016.

This has manifested itself in their development being in secret including:

a)No meaningful engagement with clinicians and frontline staff

b)No involvement of patients and the public (central diktat was to resist freedom of information requests!)

c)Extremely variable engagement of Local Government partners

d)Impossible timescales

e)Further increase in the use of management consultants

These plans are the only ‘game in town’ at the moment and as such we need to engage head on with the challenges that arise.

Conference therefore resolves through the Service Group Executive to take a twin track approach to this by :

i)Concentrating a campaign on STPs to highlight the chronic underfunding of the Health and Care system which undermines this whole policy (leading to the totally unacceptable developments outlined above).

ii)Making our opposition clear to a ‘cuts’ agenda by taking the lead in emerging campaigns with the growing body of opposition to these plans as they become clearer.

iii)Ensure Branches through their staff side are engaging in SPF forums (as per National Social Partnership Forum guidance) to protect our members interests when system wide strategies including workforce are being developed. We well remember a previous area strategy towards pay – the ‘Pay Cartel’ which was developed in isolation.

This Conference needs to send a loud and clear message that these plans are doomed to fail if the underlying issue of funding is not addressed and UNISON will campaign vigorously against any cuts agenda.