The following paragraph was published this morning in the Argus newspaper in the Opinion section:
According to a press release from NHS England in mid August, local NHS organisations were “working together for the first time on shared plans to transform health and care in the communities they serve” The press release went on to say “we expect all local leaders to be talking to the public and stakeholders regularly – it is vital that people are able to shape the future of their local services.” This press release was linked to a call made last December by the NHS for every health and care system in England to produce a Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) and in January health and care systems apparently came together to form 44 STP ‘footprints’. “The health and care organisations within these geographic footprints are working together to develop STPs which will help drive genuine and sustainable transformation in patient experience and health outcomes of the longer-term.” The regular readers of this newspaper are part of a footprint which covers the whole of Sussex and a small part of Surrey called East Surrey. As many of us prepare for Christmas the staff at the footprint will no doubt be hard at work, but almost a year into their task, unless I have missed something, there has been no conversation with local people. For many people including those who work in the NHS December is not the best time of year to unnecessary conversations or to try to organise public meetings. However almost a year since these changes began to take place, is it too much to hope that early in 2017, we might finally be told something?
A month after Augusts press release, In mid September NHS England published guidance regarding involving patients and communities and set out the expectation that ‘most areas’ will take a version of their STP to their organisations public board meetings for discussion between late October and the end of the year. After writing the piece above and sending it to the Argus I discovered that the STP for Sussex and East Surrey was actually published on 25th November. There is a link to where it can be seen here. One of the bodies that is one of the listed partners in the plan is Healthwatch and just after I had sent the piece to the Argus I bumped into someone from Healthwatch, Brighton & Hove and the first they knew about the contents for the plan was when they were sent a copy in November. The plan published so far has Work In Progress printed on every page! If the body producing the plan did not even consult with one of the agencies listed in it before publication, it is hard to argue that consultation or engagement has taken place over it. Indeed reading a copy of Hansard from 17th November it is hard to believe even the Government and certainly not our MPs had been involved in its production. Caroline Lucas is asking a question here of the Government and the answer was not very informative!