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by GK Strategy 19th May, 2017
3 min read

GK Research Reveals Top 3 Spending Priorities for STPs

With the Conservatives expected to win the election and the rollout of Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) set to continue, GK has conducted a thorough analysis of all 44 of the STP plans to identify the common strategic priorities and likely focus for spending.

STPs have been receiving particular attention during the general election campaign, which is no surprise given the latest polling by Ipsos MORI placed the NHS as the most important issue for the public.

Despite early indications that Labour would scrap the 44 area based reforms, their final manifesto promised only to pause and review them. If Labour were to win, they have not clarified who would be leading this review process, with the two most likely existing bodies, NHS England and the Department of Health, both holding significant stakes in the STP project being a success.

However, attention should turn to the detail and therein the risks and opportunities that exist within the documents themselves.

GK’s analysis showed the Labour Party’s claims that STPs are primarily focussed on cutting services and money to be slightly misleading. Although savings and efficiencies will undoubtedly be sought due to current financial pressures on NHS trusts, Chancellor Phillip Hammond’s Spring Budget allocated £325m to begin implementation of the “most advanced” STPs.

Regardless of whether this is new money or simply a reallocation of existing funds, a pot now exists for progress to be made.

In addition, the Conservative Party has committed to increasing NHS spending by a minimum of £8 billion in real terms over the next five years if re-elected, an increase in real funding per head of the population.

Beyond just funding, STPs are fundamentally about reorganising the way that accountability is situated within local health economies. Identifying a single accountable person responsible for the financial and clinical performance of all organisations within a specified area appears to be the future for STPs.

GK’s analysis showed the top three priorities shared by STPs are:

  1. Technological transformation: over 75% of STP plans highlight tech as a top priority or as a key enabler of core aims. More substantial uptake of both digital and technological innovation have long been identified as key areas for the NHS to embrace, but now, alongside Global Digital Exemplar funding of around £100m, there is money available to implement the necessary change. Although challenges exist around data sharing and regulatory constraints, the lack of finance has long been the handbrake on reform. Following the recent cyber-attacks, the historic lack of money invested in upgrading the NHS’s tech infrastructure has been brought to the centre of the political and public sphere. Previous inability or reluctance to invest the substantial sums needed to improve the existing systems is no longer viable, and STPs lay the groundwork for change to take place.
  2. Workforce: 45% of STP plans cite transformation of the workforce as a key priority. Better workforce planning and training featured highly, with particular attention being placed on the ways that improvements in technology could enable more collaborative and responsive staff.
  3. NHS estate: 34% of the plans highlight their estate as one of the key challenges they face. Estate management, one of the areas that Labour highlighted as evidence of STP’s cost saving focus, emerged as another prominent theme. Improvements in infrastructure, refurbishment of existing buildings and the consolidation of estates were three of the most frequently cited areas for transformation.

Whilst these are only their stated priorities, GK’s research shows there are shared challenges that STPs from all over the country face. Firstly, the exact form that STPs will take once they are actually implemented remains to be seen and secondly, the widely publicised variation in the quality of the STPs has done little to reassure system leaders and the public that they are the roadmap for more effective and efficient healthcare provision.

However, if the Conservatives return to government it is highly likely that the “most advanced” STPs will be given the green light to start implementation and the funding available should help realise transformation in the key areas that we have identified in our research.

Furthermore, the Conservative Party Manifesto makes specific mention of how they will “ensure that the NHS has the buildings and technology it needs to deliver care properly and efficiently”.

Whilst containing no concrete commitments as yet, this is a positive nod to businesses that are able to provide services to help meet the challenges of the NHS.

We should see more detail emerge after the election, particularly if, as expected, Theresa May wins a large majority enabling her to push ahead with reforms.

On that we will have to wait and see.

But if you have solutions in technology, workforce or estate management then our research shows that the time to act is now.

 

If you would like to find out more about GK’s analysis of all 44 of the STPs and the opportunities that exist for your business then please contact Louis Reynolds at louis@gkstrategy.com.

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