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21.09.17

Almost all STP bodies reporting poor joint working

Significant concern has been raised about the progress of sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) today as new research found that almost none of the footprints are achieving joint working between local government and health organisations.

The survey, conducted by CIPFA and iMPOWER, asked organisations involved with STPs if successful partnership working was being realised.

Shockingly, the results showed that of the 56 organisations who answered the survey, 55 did not believe that full joint working would be delivered in the next five years.

On top of that, a quarter of respondents reported that relationships were currently ‘limited’, while 54% believed they were ‘reasonable’ and only 21% considered them to be ‘very strong’.

The survey also uncovered some serious issues about how STPs would be financed

Almost all (95%) of respondents agreed that investing in prevention was essential or important – but only 15% expected to be able to use the £2bn announced in chancellor Philip Hammond’s Budget earlier in the year towards prevention activities.

CIPFA and iMPOWER argued that it was likely that available budgets would be used to plug operational challenges and go towards sustaining the market for local providers, rather than being deployed for genuine transformation or early intervention measures.

“While it is now clear what the overall ambitions are for STPs, the survey released today highlights there may be major barriers to achieving these,” said CIPFA’s chief executive, Rob Whiteman. 

“The survey shows that there are some significant concerns with regard to joint working, which is vital to the success of STPs. Therefore, serious care and attention must now be paid to building relationships and trust between partners.

“As well as ensuring working relationships are in place for STPs to achieve their desired outcomes, there also needs to be suitable levels of funding. Otherwise, there is the danger that the targets that have been set will turn out to be financially unachievable.”

Martin Cresswell, chief executive of iMPOWER, agreed that there was a huge level of agreement around priorities, and that working together was critical to STPs succeeding. 

“But relationships, national imperatives and funding are the enablers, and we must address these,” he added.

“Unlocking the interface between health and social care is vital to the success of future models of delivery – and this includes looking at reducing demand as well as improving outcomes for adults and children.”

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