England

Last updated:

NHS transformation plans will have to deliver billions in cuts

BMA analysis has found that NHS sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) will have to deliver £22bn in cuts by 2020/2021 in order to balance health and social care spending across 44 ‘footprint’ areas, raising serious concerns about cuts to services and the impact on patient care1.

Officials in each area have been asked by NHS England to predict in their STPs the financial hole they face in their budgets and set out how they can close it. The savings figures were found in papers from 42 of the 44 areas across England.

This comes as a new BMA survey has revealed that over two thirds of doctors say they have not been consulted on STPs2. The survey also shows that a third of doctors have never heard of STPs and a fifth do not support the introduction of the plans.

The BMA believes that sustainability and transformation plans could help develop health policies more suited to local needs and help integrate services across health and social care. However, it has serious concerns about the ways in which some of these plans have been put together and that they will be used as a cover for delivering cuts.

The BMA is calling for:

  • The plans to be published as soon as possible;
  • Genuine public and professional consultation on any proposed changes;
  • All proposals within the plans to be realistic and evidenced based;
  • All STPs to be funded appropriately to ensure they can deliver what has been promised;
  • Improving patient care to be the priority for each and every plan, rather than STPs being used to cut back budgets and services.

This comes ahead of next week’s autumn statement in which it has been reported that much needed additional investment for the NHS has been ruled out3.

Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair said:

“Improving patient care must be the number one priority for these plans. Given the scale of the savings required in each area, there is a real risk that these transformation plans will be used as a cover for delivering cuts, starving services of resource and patients of vital care.  

“It is extremely concerning that the majority of doctors have not been consulted on the plans, particularly as ministers have been so keen to insist that all stakeholders would be involved.

“STPs have the potential to generate more collaboration and the longer-term planning of services based on local need but it is crucial that any plans about the future of the NHS must be drawn up in an open and transparent way, and have the support and involvement of clinicians, patients and the public from the outset. At this stage nobody can be confident that this has happened.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

The British Medical Association (BMA) is the voice of doctors and medical students in the UK. It is an apolitical professional organisation and independent trade union, representing doctors and medical students from all branches of medicine across the UK and supporting them to deliver the highest standards of care.

  1. The savings figures in the attached document were found in papers from 42 of the 44 footprint areas across England – see attached document.
  2. The findings of a BMA Survey of 310 doctors in England are below:

Has there been any clinical or public engagement for the STP in your area?                                                      

Yes

No

Total

36%

64%

100.0%

Do you support the introduction of STPs?

 

StronglySupport

 

Support

 

NotSure

 

Do notSupport

 

StronglyDo notSupport

 

Total

1%

13%

64%

13%

9%

100.0%

Prior to this survey, had you heard of Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs)?

Yes

No

Total

67%

33%

100.0%

  • It was reported in October that the NHS would not receive additional funding in the autumn statement. The BMA’s response is available here
  • More information on the BMA’s position on STPs is available here.
  • For press queries please email [email protected] or call 0207 383 6448       .