The Government’s latest plans to change the NHS in England, STPs, are currently being developed in many areas behind closed doors with little or no involvement with organisations such as the Royal College of Nursing. This leads us to be concerned about what the plans might mean for patient care and for the staff that deliver it.
“It is unacceptable that plans that will fundamentally change the NHS have been developed in secret," said Jeannett Martin, RCN South West Regional Director. "These plans will affect the delivery of care to patients; at the moment it is impossible to say with certainty if the plans are good or bad as those published to date outline the challenges and aspirations rather than detail about how the challenges might be met. The level of detail required for implementation must be developed with proper involvement of the public and staff groups, including trade unions."
"As a result of RCN lobbying in the South West we are beginning to see partnership forums being developed and we welcome the opportunity to sit down with STP groups and look at what the plans will mean for the care that patients will receive," she continued. "Additionally current employers within each STP area must also involve their local staff and we continue to lobby for this. These are urgent and necessary actions to ensure a transparent process and the best outcome for patients. The RCN expects that any changes to services and staff roles should be in the best interests of patients and be based on enabling the delivery of high quality care – they should not be purely financially driven."
The NHS Shared Planning Guidance asked every local health and care system in England to come together to create their own ambitious local plan; these blueprints are known as STPs. England has been divided into 44 'footprints' and in the South West region there are seven.
The challenge for the NHS is significant. In the South West region in just five of the seven footprint areas the predicted total budget shortfall is £1,294 million by 2021, with no change to current systems and practices according to figures obtained by 38 Degrees. The STPs are looking at how to address these shortfalls while maintaining the same level of service – an impossible task.
The RCN believes that change must be supported by investment for success.