The 44 sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) covering England were sent in for central scrutiny by the end of September, with NHS England (NHSE) requesting that they be kept confidential until national sense checks and comparisons could be carried out. Yet a number of localities, feeling the need to engage with the public up front if they were to proceed quickly in 2017 with potentially controversial plans, soon published them.
CIPFA was able to take nine into account when writing the Sorting the Plans Briefing (PDF, 312 KB), released on 19 November. NHSE then indicated that all plans should be published by the end of the year, and by the end of November, 37 of the 44 were in the public domain. Commentators have been unanimous: the integrated advance planning of the STPs is the right way to go, but it hasn’t yet been done in the right way.
The plans tend to look unrealistic, either because radical actions aren’t given long enough to work through, or because the actions aren’t transformational enough, leaving the system to generate more savings than has been historically possible through similar actions. Those, though, are theoretical responses to draft papers. The future of the health and social care system will largely be defined by how the plans, once finalised, work out in practice.