The plans set out a case for changing the way health services are delivered in order to better prevent ill health, by treating people closer to home and out of hospital wherever possible, making sure patients get the right care in the best place. At the same time, they also talk about the large financial deficit facing the NHS in the region and the need to address the ‘funding and efficiency gap’ in order to deliver care in a ‘more cost effectively within budget’.
The STPs have a number of shared work programmes, including the North East and North Cumbria Urgent and Emergency Care Network vanguard, regional QIPP and medicines optimisation groups, and joint commissioning arrangements for ambulance services. Already we’ve seen that this work isn’t plain sailing, with proposals to reconfigure maternity services in North Cumbria referred to the Health Secretary.
It is noticeable however that despite the critical role that nurses and healthcare assistants play in the delivery of care, there is little or no mention of nursing or the NHS workforce in the plans so far.
Since the publication of the early plans, there have been reports that health leaders are in discussions over merging the three STPs. This would create the largest STP in the country, covering a population of 3.2 million people, larger than the Greater Manchester STP that has a population of 2.8 million.
Many of these issues are of concern for the RCN. While we understand that discussions and plans are still in their relatively early stages, we want to ensure that however the plans develop, you - our members - are protected, along with the important patient services you provide. In the coming weeks and months we will be working hard to get involved in these conversations as they develop to ensure that the nursing workforce has a voice at the top table.
To keep you up to date and informed as these plans develop, we’ll also be sharing information here, so please do keep an eye on our webpages.