Sustainability and transformation plans (STPs)

What are the sustainability transformation plans?

In December 2015, NHS Shared Planning Guidance asked every local health and care system in England to come together to create local plans – called sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) – to implement the NHS’s five year plan.

The NHS has three key aims that they aim to reach in the next four years (by 2020/21), and that are aimed at providing better health services for the public. These aims are to:

  • improve the quality of care people receive
  • improve health and wellbeing; and
  • ensure that the NHS’s services are efficient.

The local plans that are being designed to help reach these aims are known as sustainable transformation plans (STPs). These plans will encourage patients, the public, carers, clinicians, stakeholders and individual local health organisations (such as GPs, hospitals and local authorities) to join forces in order to plan and improve local health and care services.

How do STPs affect the voluntary sector?
Locally, the STP give the voluntary and community sector (VCS) a new opportunity to strengthen our relationship with the partners in the local health and care system (as NHS England calls them) as they will need to show they are engaging effectively with the sector.

Voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations can help to reach those who experience the greatest health inequalities, including those who work with people with protected characteristics.

Particular emphasis should be given to engagement with people who are less frequently heard and who experience the greatest inequalities in health outcomes. This will help to ensure that informed and conscious consideration is given to assessing needs in respect of the equality and inequality duties. Locally, the best source of support for linking with the voluntary sector is frequently the centre for voluntary services (CVS), sometimes called a local development and support agency.

With this in mind, York CVS, in partnership with Healthwatch York, are focused on ensuring that people from all sections of York are able to participate in shaping the future of health services in the city.

What do we need to do?
We need to work together with other interested VCS orgs within the STP footprint to agree how best to approach STPs. We need to agree what our offer is, how we can help engage with local communities and marginalised groups, how we can support the transformation of services (e.g. social prescribing), how we can positively impact on person centred care and how we can shape this into a coherent offer to support the production of the STP.
Once we have a clear offer we then need to be proactive in contacting decision makers, outlining how we can help the local system deliver on engagement with integration. However time is tight.
Is this just about cutting services?

No. We will be honest about the challenges we face financially. There are limited resources and we need to think differently about how we use these to get the best for us all. But it’s bigger than just getting the money right. We need to provide better information so it is easier to get the right care in the right place at the right time. We need to help people look after themselves better. For example, people with long term conditions can manage these if they have good access to information and training when first diagnosed. In other areas, telehealth and telecare help reduce unnecessary visits to GPs. Better support within communities means you prevent situations getting worse before anyone will help you. So this is about modernising care.

We also need to better explain how things work already so you know what to expect and what this means. For example, through Choose and Book many York residents choose to have initial appointments at other hospitals, such as Harrogate or Hull. However, if you do this, you should stay under Harrogate or Hull for the entire course of treatment. Many patients when they learn this choose to come back to York. This means York pays twice for an initial appointment. We don’t want to stop you choosing to travel if you want to. But we want to make sure you know this means you need to be willing to keep travelling throughout your treatment.

Will this affect funding for voluntary organisations?

These plans will become increasingly important in health service planning because they are the gateway to funding. In 2016/17 they are the basis for accessing a transformation pot of £2.1bn. This will encompass the funding streams for all transformational programmes from April 2017 onwards, and will rise to £3.4bn by 2021.

The guide for local areas developing sustainability and transformation plans clearly states that “…skills and experience can also be commissioned from the voluntary sector, local Healthwatch and via Commissioning Support Unit (CSU) frameworks.”

Engaging with the voluntary sector is vital in the formation of sustainable transformation plans. York CVS help to facilitate this engagement. The links below lead to Healthwatch York, where citizens of York can feedback on, and help to shape the future of, health services in York; and to the York CVS forums, which bring the voluntary sector together to share best practice on a range of issues.