NHS changes backed by evidence deserve politicians’ support

21 February 2017

A report by The King’s Fund says politicians should back changes to NHS services outlined in sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) when the evidence shows they will benefit patients.

The analysis says STPs could help to move more care closer to home, but it warns against cutting hospital beds without first investing in suitable support in the community.

Responding to the report, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, said:

"STPs could play a vital role in developing better health and care services for patients. But there are many obstacles. Too often politicians seek to block changes, even when they are clearly in patients’ best interests. We support The King’s Fund’s call for ministers and local politicians to back radical change where the evidence supports it.

STPs could play a vital role in developing better health and care services for patients. But there are many obstacles.

"However the proposals drawn up by STPs need to be credible. This will require a more realistic timescale, and – as the report points out – better engagement with staff, patients and the public.

"The King’s Fund is right to highlight the more challenging environment that has developed since the NHS Five year forward view, and the increasing focus on financial pressures rather than service transformation. Cuts to social care and public health budgets have added to those pressures. More funding must be invested in improving community services to ensure that changes can be supported and services for patients aren’t compromised. The gap between what the NHS is being asked to deliver and the funding available is unsustainable. By themselves, STPs can not and should not be expected to bridge that gap.”

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