There are 44 Sustainability and Transformation Plans (often known as STPs) around the country, and there has been a lot of news coverage about them.
The basic requirement of the STPs is to set out how the NHS in each part of the country intends to change the way it works over the next five years, both to improve services, and to ensure that health services remain affordable.
In some other parts of the country, STPs have set out detailed proposals for how local NHS systems will change – sometimes spelling out specific changes to hospital services, or GP practices. The Hampshire and Isle of Wight STP does not do this.
Instead, the STP for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in essence does three things:
It sets out the scale of the challenge facing the county’s NHS. The government has already told the NHS how much money it will get for the next five years – overall levels of funding will rise but, in headline terms, carrying on as we do now without major changes would lead to a £577m shortfall across the county by 2021.
It brings together all of the work which is already underway (including Better Local Care, in south east Hampshire, and Health and Care Portsmouth), showing how the NHS in different parts of the county is already thinking about transforming the way it works. These initiatives were already in place before the STP process began.
It sets out how where the county’s NHS should work together to tackle big issues which can’t be fixed at a purely local level – for example, making the numerous NHS IT systems work together, ensuring that fewer people face travelling long distances for specialist mental health support, and considering whether some hospital-based specialties would serve patients better if they were brought together into larger teams, based at a single site, rather than spread across a wider area.
The NHS across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight needs to find some big answers to some big questions, and the STP sets out the framework for that process. The ambition is that future solutions will be developed at a local level where possible – in this area, through Health and Care Portsmouth, and Better Local Care – and that extensive public engagement or consultation will take place at that local level, as appropriate. If significant changes are being considered over a wider geographic area, then specific processes for involving all of those affected will be developed.