What’s happening with local Sustainability and Transformation Plans?
Since the publication of local Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) in October, updates from Birmingham and Solihull (BSol), have quietened. Healthwatch Birmingham’s first briefing (6th October) stated that patients and the public would be hearing a lot on the issue over the coming months. Whilst that may be the case nationally, there is a lack of localised updates and there does not seem to be clarity on the progress made in moving forward. There is also a lack of communication with patients, service users and the public with accessible ways for people to feed into discussions about planned changes.
Healthwatch Birmingham originally expressed concerns about the lack of an in-depth engagement strategy as we reflected on the publication of the Birmingham and Solihull STP and it seems that the public’s awareness of local plans remains relatively low. As reported to the Health and Wellbeing Board on the 31st January 2017, the BSol STP is currently working on upgrading their plans prior to engaging with the public. However, Healthwatch Birmingham now understand that BSol STP’s engagement and consultation will now not take place until after April 2017. STP leaders need to consistently communicate progress in a timely manner about how services may be changing, and the impacts on patients and the public. Not doing so may increase worry or uncertainty for patients about their local services. It may also mean services are being shaped in a way that doesn’t entirely meet their needs or reflects the diversity of Birmingham.
Healthwatch Birmingham recognises that the STPs are a work in progress, but we believe that this presents the best opportunity to involve and engage with the public. The NHS has a legal duty to involve and consult the public and this becomes more important when the scale of changes being proposed is of the breadth we expect to see within STPs. Involving the residents of Birmingham ensures that these changes to services work in collaboration with those that use them.
A key challenge for Birmingham is that some of its residents (namely west Birmingham residents) are currently covered under the Black Country STP and there is therefore confusion regarding the overlap of BSol and Black Country STP. It is essential that there is collaboration between the two footprints in drawing up an engagement strategy that reflects the needs of the city’s diverse communities, and that consultation activities are accessible to all.
Latest Healthwatch Birmingham activity on STPs
A key part of our role is to highlight the importance of patient and public involvement, insight and experience in the design, delivery and improvement of health and social care services. This involves working with decision makers to ask questions and challenge the improvement of patient and public involvement.
In November 2016 and January 2017, Healthwatch Birmingham challenged the lack of engagement and communication through the Birmingham Health and Wellbeing Board. We urged both BSol and Black Country STPs to work together to enable the residents of Birmingham to understand which plans will affect them based on where they live in Birmingham. We have also worked closely with the Health, Wellbeing and the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee in Birmingham to raise the importance of quality patient and public involvement. We have attended the Black Country STP public engagement event on 6th December 2016.
- With the complexity of two local STPs, Healthwatch Birmingham hopes to see easy and accessible ways for patients to identify the impact of plans, based on where they live and which services they are accessing.
- Both BSol STP and Black County STP have announced their intention for effective engagement and consultation in the development of their plans. As reported at the Birmingham Health and Wellbeing Board in January 2017, for BSol STP this will now not take place until after April 2017. Healthwatch Birmingham will continue to work with system leaders to raise the quality of engagement and communication strategies and continue our work to embed the principles of our Quality Standard.
Share your views
For patients, the public, service users and carers: if you feel you have not got an opportunity to feed into STP plans directly please get in touch with Healthwatch Birmingham to share your views.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0800 652 5278 / 0121 636 0990.
- You can find out more about STPs and how they impact patients and the public in our briefing here
- The Black Country STP can be found http://www.dudleyccg.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Black-Country-STP-Full-Plan.pdf
- For health and social care organisations: information about Healthwatch Birmingham’s Quality Standard for using patient and public insight, experience and involvement to reduce health inequality here
- For more information on considering equality and health inequality issues within STPs can be found https://www.england.nhs.uk/2016/12/lucy-wilkinson/
- For some statistics on the public’s awareness of STPs https://www.hsj.co.uk/topics/service-design/exclusive-six-out-of-seven-people-havent-heard-of-stps/7014946.article