NHS England has ambitious plans to reform healthcare. It wants to deliver more care in the community, in a timelier and more effective manner for patients. Key vehicles for achieving this are Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs), which are designed to bring together healthcare commissioners to coordinate local care plans.
Reform believes that the principle of commissioning healthcare across care pathways, taking into account GPs, hospitals and other providers is sound, as it incentivises care to be delivered in the most effective place, thereby improving outcomes and reducing cost.
STPs will not achieve this within the current NHS framework. STPs have no power to commission health contracts, which currently incentivise care delivered in hospitals. STPs have not worked closely enough with local government to identify public-health and social-care needs. STPs are a sticking plaster for a complex commissioning framework, including NHS England, Clinical Commissioning Groups, local authorities, and Health and Wellbeing Boards.