Research was published this week giving insight into the development of the NHS’s STPs in England. The BBC and the King’s Fund released separate analyses suggesting a serious risk that existing services could face significant cuts, but that new and redesigned services might not emerge fully to replace them.
The process is clearly reaching a stage where it is crucial for us to understand the real-life impacts of changes as they emerge.
On the one hand, STPs undeniably hold significant potential to re-shape the NHS to face the changing demands on it, including more people living longer, with multiple long-term conditions. They contain some genuinely ambitious proposals for GPs, community nurses and other services to work together in new joined-up ways. These would improve outcomes for patients, by keeping people well for longer in their own homes and reducing the need for hospital stays.
On the other hand, the risk highlighted by this week’s research is that with rushed implementation and a lack of up-front investment in community services, these benefits might never flow to patients. Instead some hospital services could close without proper alternatives being available. The relative lack of explanation or consultation in the process up to now has added to these risks.
The Patients Association is keen to stay updated with your experiences of how STPs are affecting your local services. We have already heard from a number of people about changes to their local health services, but we are eager to hear from more people. Get in touch with our Policy team using the link below to share your thoughts.