The densely packed 47-page document says nothing to explain how they intend to achieve the aspirations they outline – it is this lack of clarity and transparency that concerns the RCN.
John Wilkinson, RCN Senior Officer, said: “It is of great concern that plans, which will so fundamentally change the NHS, have been developed without the RCN and our members’ engagement. These are plans that will affect everybody whether they are a patient or staff. This is the first STP document that we’ve seen in this region and it doesn’t come with any clarity on how NHS England are intending to manage this as a sustainable plan.
“The priorities are really generic and there is no detail as to how they will impact on the people of Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes or how the local NHS trusts will be expected to operationalise them.
“We would welcome the opportunity to talk with this STP group and really look at what the plans will mean for patients and the workforce. The STP leaders must be clear about what they are actually proposing to do and current employers within each STP area must involve nurses and their local representatives urgently to enable them to shape the plans as a priority.
“Nurses are well placed to help develop the services that they are involved in delivering.
"It is remarkable that we learned about this document through a leak from the Mayor of Bedford on the Bedford Borough website in a political act to ‘expose NHS secrecy to the people of Bedfordshire’. We need to be talking about these plans in an open and honest way if they are going to be fit for purpose.”
The Government’s latest plan to reform the NHS in England in the form of STPs has been developed behind closed doors with little or no involvement with external organisations such as the RCN, leading to concerns about what the plans could involve.
The NHS Shared Planning Guidance asked every local health and care system in England to come together to create their own ambitious local plan - the blueprints known as STPs. England has been divided into 44 “footprints”, seven of which are in the South East region and six of which are in the Eastern region.