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We have no confidence in transformation plans, local government tells NHS

Less than a quarter of councillors believe STPs will succeed, poll shows

Caroline White

Wednesday, 05 July 2017

Less than a quarter of local politicians in England and Wale are confident that major NHS plans to reshape local health and care services will succeed, show the results of a survey published today by their representative body, the Local Government Association.

And most respondents to the poll don’t feel they have been involved with shaping, commenting on, or approving the NHS’s 44 sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) as they are now known.

On the second day of the LGA’s annual conference in Birmingham, council leaders are warning that if the STP plans proceed as they are, then they will not work.

The survey was completed by 81 respondents from 66 single tier and county councils and two district councils.

It shows that while more than 90% of respondents know about STPs, only one in five (21%) said they had felt sufficiently engaged in their STPs, and fewer than one in four councillors are confident that their STP will deliver on its objectives or bring benefits to the local community.

Not one respondent said that their full council had been “very engaged” in their STP.

The LGA is now calling for the NHS to act now to involve councillors as equal partners in STPs, which, it says, should be more democratically accountable through local health and wellbeing boards.

Local health and wellbeing boards should also be given a legal duty to sign off the plans, it says.

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. As our survey results show, the majority of local politicians who responded feel excluded from the STP planning process.”

She continued: “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.”

And she added: “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 the LGA was keen to work with NHS England to improve engagement and develop STPs in accordance with the democratic structures of local government.

“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 insisted.

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