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STPs must act fast to sustain the NHS ahead of more restructuring, says Birmingham CCG chair

by Carolyn Wickware
14 June 2016

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The chair of NHS Birmingham clinical commissioning group (CCG) has urged sustainability and transformation plans (STP) to “work quickly” if they intend to uphold the NHS.

Dr Gavin Ralston said the latest restructuring in the form of STPs and place-based commissioning could help to create a sustainable NHS.

But, he warned, “it better work quickly, because there may well be another reorganisation along in three years.”

Ralston was addressing commissioners, GPs, nurses and practice managers during the opening panel at the Commissioning Live event in Birmingham, today.

Speaking on the topic of creating a sustainable NHS, he added: “CCGs have made a good start but there’s much more to be done.”

Yet a show of hands in a further conference session revealed that few delegates knew what an STP was or had any involvement in their local footprint.

Brendon Young, the patient representative for NHSE West Midlands Clinical Senate Council, said patients however don’t want another “upside down, inside out reorganisation of the NHS”.

Furthermore, he said, STPs have forgotten about patients.

“This STP, I was told, was about us. But the truth is, we’ve been forgotten about,” Young said, adding, “but when our STP comes in I know I will have a stake hold”.

Beyond STPs, Ralston said, as patients, we have a new responsibility to find news ways to get medical advice.

“We need to move away from a very traditional model of consulting face-to-face,” he said, suggesting remote consulting may be the way forward to a more sustainable NHS.

Dr Steve Mann, clinical executive for acute and community for NHS Dudley CCG, said that fundamentally GP recruitment needs a boost for the NHS to keep going.

“There isn’t a massive cohort of young doctors wanting to do general practice,” he said. “Cuba, with a population of around 12 million, trains 25,000 doctors a year and we train about 8,000 doctors a year. Just like Cuba, we export a lot of what we train.”

In Dudley, 20% of adults have two or more long-term conditions, most of which fall to primary care for management, he said, “we need to change”.

He added: “We need to think about how we’re going to change because, the way things are, we can’t have the GP doing everything.”