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NHS warned not to leave councillors out of STP process

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The NHS cannot expect councillors to back plans for major local reorganisations unless they have been involved in developing them, the LGA has warned.

A paper discussed by its executive yesterday has raised fears that the NHS has failed to fully involve local government ahead of the expected publication of sustainability and transformation plans over the coming months. 

NHS England said this week it expected most of the 44 STPs would be made public by the end of the year. Only four plan areas have leads drawn from local government - Birmingham, Manchester, Nottinghamshire and Norfolk - the remainder being from the NHS. The development of the plans have recently attracted accusations of unnecessary secrecy and suggestions officials are plotting to cut services. 

The LGA paper said councils had consistently raised three issues following their “mixed” experience of STPs: whole system pressures must be understood, including those in social care and public health; local political leaderships should be harnessed to support any change proposals; communities and their needs should be at the heart of STPs.

It warned against an emphasis on health at the expense of care, saying local government had consistently pointed out the NHS could not deal with its financial challenges unless social care was adequately funded.

Councils and councillors could help health partners to engage with communities “but only if they have an opportunity to discuss and contribute to change proposals,” the paper said.

“Councillors cannot be expected to support plans for major service changes if they have not been involved in their development.”

Each STP should show evidence that it has held “meaningful strategic conversations with local politicians”, it added, and have “an open and honest conversation with the public…this cannot amount only to consultation on pre-determined solutions.”


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