This would bring together Durham, Darlington, Teesside, Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby; Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and North Durham; and West, North and East Cumbria STPs to create the largest partnership in the country.
It seems that discussions are still at an early stage and a formal decision has yet to be made. If it goes ahead, then it will cover a population of some 3.2m people, overtaking the Greater Manchester STP, with a population of 2.8m.
The three STPs already have a number of shared work programmes which include:
- North East and North Cumbria Urgent and Emergency Care Network vanguard
- regional QIPP
- medicines optimisation groups
- joint commissioning arrangements for ambulance services.
Despite discussions about moving to a single STP, work is continuing with other transformation work such as ‘Path to Excellence’ proposals for the City Hospitals Sunderland and the South Tyneside Foundation Trusts along with local CCGs to work more closely together.
As the three STPs consider merging, there are a number of important, unanswered issues about the future.
Firstly, it is very unclear what or even whether there will be a formal process that the STPs will have to go through to complete the merger. Secondly, who will actually approve the merger? And finally, what are the timescales? So, we’ll be keep a very close eye on developments over the coming months and seeking answers to those questions.
In the meantime, it is rumoured that the ‘foot has been taken off the STP accelerator’ for the next few weeks and months to help the local NHS deal with winter pressures.