Majority of councils lack confidence in STPs
Less than a quarter of local politicians are confident major NHS plans to reshape local health and care services will succeed, according to a new survey.
The Local Government Association (LGA) representing more than 370 councils in England and Wales, found a majority of councillors responding to its poll did not feel involved with shaping, commenting on or approving the 44 NHS sustainability and transformation plans (STPs).
STPs aim to redesign and overhaul local health and care services to cope with increasing patient demand and focus on treating patients in the community and away from hospitals.
Speaking at the LGA Annual Conference in Birmingham, council leaders said they had serious doubts STPs would deliver their objectives in their current form.
Chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, said: ‘Many councillors have been disappointed by the unilateral top-down approach of the NHS in some of the STP areas. The majority of local politicians who responded feel excluded from the STP planning process.
‘If local politicians and communities are not engaged then we have serious doubt over whether STPs will deliver on their objectives and bring benefits to communities. We are therefore calling for urgent action at national and local level to involve councillors as representatives of their local communities in a meaningful way in all aspects of STP development,' she said.
'For STPs to work, they need to be a genuine partnership between clinical, professional and political leaders, driving forward the change of local health and care for the better,' she added.
The LGA believes STPs should be more democratically accountable through local health and wellbeing boards, which should also be given a legal duty to sign off the plans.
Health and wellbeing boards bring together political, clinical and community leaders to plan how best to meet the health and wellbeing challenges of their local population.
Key findings of the LGA survey were:
- 90 per cent of responding councillors know about STPs
- Only 21 per cent felt sufficiently engaged in their STPs
- Under 25 per cent were confident their STP will deliver on its objectives or bring benefits to their local communities
- Not a single respondent reported their council being 'very engaged' in their STP