Sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs)

STPs - what they are, what they mean for doctors, what's currently happening and a briefing on if STPs can survive without proper funding.

Updated: Tuesday 8 September 2020
NHS Structure Article Illustration

In 2016, NHS England divided the country into 44 footprints as part of the Five Year Forward View.

These footprints, known as STPs (sustainability and transformation partnerships), bring together NHS, local authority and other health and care organisations to collaboratively determine the future of their health and care system.


What's happening now

Next steps on the Five Year Forward View also introduced two evolutions of STPs: ICSs (integrated care systems) and ICPs (integrated care providers).

Each STP and ICS is expected to produce five-year plans for 2019/20 - 2025, which will replace those produced in 2016.

These plans are expected to take account of the delayed long term plan for the NHS and new capital funding settlements, so it will be important that the BMA and local members influence their development. Read our response to the NHS long term plan consultation.


BMA view on STPs

While the BMA supports the concept of health and social care integration, we have been critical of the introduction and initial development of STPs.

Our major concerns regarding STPs and their original plans include:

  • funding and finance - the enormous pressure on STPs to deliver savings, and of capital funding reinforced concerns that they plans were focused on finances, not care
  • governance - STPs are not statutory bodies and have no bass in legislation
  • transparency - STP plans were produced secretively, and could not be properly scrutinised
  • engagement - STP plans were developed with inadequate engagement with clinicians and the public.

A survey carried out as part of our caring, supportive, collaborative project showed that BMA members view STPs negatively and were not engaged in their development.


STP briefing

We put together a briefing on STPs that investigates if STPs can survive without the funding they need. It includes a deep dive into the key themes and priorities identified from each STP.