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Some STPs will not ‘move forward’, says health minister

by Carolyn Wickware
7 October 2016

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Sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) will not move forward if they fail to invest in general practice, a health minister has confirmed.

Speaking to delegates at the Royal College of General Practice (RCGP) today, David Mowat, parliamentary under-secretary for health, said: “We won’t move forward with STPs if they’re not right.

“And frankly it would be hard for me to say that, if there was a consensus in an area amongst the GPs that an STP is not right, that it would be in a position to move forward.”

He said this was particularly the case as providing a “tilt” in the healthcare system towards general practice was “one of the structural reasons” for the STPs.

The 44 STP footprints are set to submit their plans “for review and sign off” to NHS England this month.

However, Mowat added that the Department of Health is expecting some STPs “not to be able to move forward”.

He said: “We’re expecting, as the STPs come forward, for there to be a variety of degrees of completeness, a variety of STPs in terms of having the ability to move forward quickly and in some cases perhaps not to be able to move forward.”

He urged the GPs in attendance to “act as critical friends” to the STP process.

“Yes, we challenge it; yes, we seek to understand and we try and make it better. And everybody in this room can help do that,” Mowat said.

His comments follow Dr Maureen Baker’s opening address to the conference yesterday in which the RCGP chair urged NHS England to make it “crystal clear” that STPs would not be moved forward if they failed to show investment in general practice.

To address concerns surrounding GP involvement in the STP process, Baker set up RCGP ambassadors to encourage GP involvement.

However, she said, where GPs are involved, they are “struggling against an agenda” focused on reducing hospital deficits.

Mowat said he was “determined” that the ambassador’s scheme be taken seriously.