The case for doing things differently with healthcare in Staffordshire

You might have seen national news coverage yesterday about NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) and concerns over ‘secrecy’ about what’s in them. NHS organisations and councils in all 44 local health and social care economies in England – for us that is Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent – have been asked to produce one of these STPs. They set out our collective strategies for ensuring that we can provide providing safe and affordable services in the years ahead.

I can understand where some of the media coverage is coming from as these plans must be shared and discussed with Staffordshire people before any decisions are made. I understand the NHS is planning to publish them before Christmas. A series of conversation events are already taking place around the county, including one in Stafford this evening, to help explain the need for these plans.

The latest submission of the STP for Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent went in three weeks ago, and I attended the conference of council chief executives from counties and cities on Friday, during part of which we compared noted on STPs, and how councils and NHS are working together in different parts of the country. I hope that you will reassured to read that we appear to be ahead of the pack in terms of integration with health.

It’s another of those immense challenges, and one that cannot be underestimated. The British public are inherently suspicious of any changes to the NHS, but the reality is we have a growing, ageing population with people living longer, and often in ill health. Too many people are ending up in hospital when they should be kept healthy or treated at home.  We need to do things differently, and have joined up, effective, health and social care services.

We have a leading role to play here, but this is truly one of those strategic challenges – keeping the service running while designing and implementing something fit for the 21st Century. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but as an old colleague used to joke, “if it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing.”

Comments are closed.