Stevens: Most STPs ready by October as ‘substantial’ progress made

The sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) are on track to be agreed by autumn, the chief executive of NHS England has said.

Simon Stevens told the NHS England board meeting this morning that progress on the STPs, which were submitted at the end of June, had been “very substantial” and that they were ready to develop their financial propositions by September and agree the final sign off of most STPs by October.

Stevens admitted that there was variety between the 44 STPs, but said: “It’s fair to say that the size of the challenge and the degree people have collectively mobilised were at different places when this project first kicked off, but most people have moved a very long way in a very short time.”

STPs are intended to help local areas deliver the Five Year Forward View vision of greater integrated care, but have faced controversy since they were introduced.

An investigation by NHE’s sister title, Public Sector Executive, found that ‘Locality Plans’ in Greater Manchester are providing greater local authority involvement in integrating care than STPs in other areas.

They have also been watered down from their original goal, with the then life sciences minister George Freeman admitting in June that they have no legal basis and health secretary Jeremy Hunt saying they were “very simply” about reducing hospital bed days.

A survey of NHS finance directors also found that only 16% believe STPs will succeed in delivering sustainable care by 2021.

Stevens also said that NHS England had responded to providers’ concerns by bringing forward the annual contracting rounds for 2017-18 and 2018-19.

These will now be finished by December in order to allow providers more time to redesign services.

Stevens said NHS England will publish its tariff engagement document next week, which will allow it to track the costs of complex care more closely.

NHS England recently announced a range of new measures to try to heal the troubled financial state of the NHS, including new penalties for trusts and CCGs which miss targets.

However, he also said NHS England would unveil new ‘pop-up payments’ for specialised services, particularly cancer, cardiac and respiratory care.

A report submitted to the board meeting said that NHS England is seeking to address the crisis in specialised care spending by trialling integration of specialised services with STPs in Greater Manchester, South East London, Cornwall and Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

(Image c. Owen Humphreys from PA Wire)

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