Healthwatch Birmingham reflects on Birmingham and Solihull Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) publication
Healthwatch Birmingham is pleased to see that the Birmingham and Solihull Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) footprint was the first in the country to make their plan public following their submission to NHS England on the 21st October 2016. As discussed in our recent briefing (6 October 2016), Sustainability and Transformation Plans bring together local health and social care services (known as footprints) to develop plans that will improve health and wellbeing, and deliver quality care with fewer resources.
The scope of Birmingham and Solihull’s STP is broad and the draft plans presented show a major shift in the way services are commissioned and delivered. The submission is clear in setting out:
- the challenges the system is facing (gaps in Birmingham and Solihull’s population’s health and wellbeing; care and quality and a major financial gap with a projected £712 million deficit by 2021);
- the key issues that contribute to these challenges (inadequate/inefficient use of resources such as bed space, estates and infrastructure; care that can be provided in the community is provided within hospital settings; and variation in quality and access to health and social care services);
- the solutions that are required to build a sustainable health and social care system by outlining the key strategic objectives and priority programmes that address these objectives.
Andy Cave, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Healthwatch Birmingham says: “As the independent consumer champion for health and social care in the city, we are passionate about putting patients, public, service users and carers at the heart of service improvement in health and social care in the city of Birmingham. In line with our strategy, we also seek to champion health equity so that those accessing services consistently receive care which meets their individual and collective needs.”
“I believe that a clear process of seeking patient and public insight, experience and involvement is an essential part of the Birmingham and Solihull STP, not just at this stage, but as a consistent strategy throughout the lifetime of the plan. This transparency will ensure that patients, the public, service users and carers will understand the implications of these changes on their health and social care. It is vital that they feel engaged and informed throughout the process and that their thoughts, ideas and comments are taken into account to develop these plans further.”
“I am pleased to see that the role of Healthwatch Birmingham has been recognised and named in the plans. As our last briefing stated, our online Feedback Centre provides valuable insight into how patients, the public, service users and carers are experiencing health and social care. However, I would like to see the use of existing insight and patient experience of health and social care services in the current plan. This should include insight from previous consultations that have taken place on particular programmes outlined in the plan, as well as the intelligence gathered by local voluntary sector organisations and local Healthwatch.”
Ensuring good health and social care outcomes through engagement
Healthwatch Birmingham are encouraged that the draft submission to NHS England has been shared with the public and that they have been given the opportunity to comment on it. Despite this action, and the plan itself showing a commitment to engage, it is concerning that there is no in depth engagement strategy as of yet. If they fail to involve the people of Birmingham and Solihull fully in these big decisions they will not only face resistance to the changes but they will also miss out on a golden opportunity to make the right changes first time.
Key to ensuring effective engagement and involvement by citizens is ensuring plans and communications are as accessible as possible. Currently, the document submitted to NHS England uses technical language which makes it harder for people to comment on. We look forward to seeing the information in the submission presented in accessible formats in the future in order to fully engage with all the people of Birmingham and Solihull. The submission and accompanying information can been found here.
Black Country STP and West Birmingham
Healthwatch Birmingham is continuing to work with its Local Healthwatch partners across the Black Country footprint to influence and challenge the level of patient and public involvement in the development of that plan. We are particularly interested to hear more about how the two STP footprints will co-ordinate their engagement to enable the citizens of Birmingham understand which plan effects them.
“Healthwatch Birmingham will continue to challenge to ensure the people of Birmingham have their say in how their services are run in the future, championing the importance of patient insight, experience and involvement,” Andy Cave, CEO.
- The Birmingham and Solihull STP submission to NHS England can be found on https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/stp
- Healthwatch Birmingham attended the Health, Wellbeing and the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 25 October 2016 where the Birmingham and Solihull STP was discussed in detail https://birmingham.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/249174