Health and Social Care Sustainable Transformation Planning

A number of constituents have contacted me regarding the current NHS Sustainable Transformation Planning process.

As you know the NHS is under considerable pressure. There are many reasons for this. We are living longer and living often with complex health problems. The NHS is a fantastic British institution and our medical professionals are able to treat an increasing range of illnesses and conditions which also adds to the demand. Millions more appointments are provided by the NHS now than even ten years ago and the costs of maintaining the NHS is increasingly expensive.

Furthermore, managers and local authorities have struggled to achieve meaningful integration of health and social care resulting in unnecessary hospital admissions, prolonged stays in hospital, duplication and financial waste. Also, in an attempt to improve patient care, it is fair to say that successive Governments have introduced reforms which have led to challenges for medical professionals that could have been avoided. We all care about the NHS and most agree that healthcare should be provided as close to home as possible. The Sustainable Transformation Planning is the best way of ensuring patients get the best outcome.

With these things in mind we must accept that things need to change. The NHS cannot carry on as it is today. It cannot deliver what we all believe it should unless we address the issues that have frustrated doctors and healthcare professionals for so long.

To do this the NHS has outlined an approach to ensure that health and care services are built around the needs of local populations. Every health and care system in England (for us here in West Cornwall and on the Isles of Scilly the Kernow Clinical Commission Group with NHS providers and Cornwall Council) will produce a Sustainability and Transformation Plan, showing how local services will become sustainable over the next five years – delivering the vision of better health, better patient care and improved NHS efficiency.

I believe this provides the best opportunity to integrate health and social care, reduce the pressure on acute services and avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.

To this end I have been active in this area as follows:

  • Campaigning for a greater role and secure funding for community pharmacists as they are well placed to help people to manage a health condition and can reduce the pressure on GPs
  • Working with Cornwall Council and NHS leaders to integrate health and social care
  • Working with health campaigners and local GPs to develop the case for adequate community beds and to reopen Edward Hain Hospital as soon as possible
  • Working with care and support providers to try and address difficulties that exist with Cornwall Council’s commissioning processes and with recruiting and retaining good staff
  • Regularly discussing the challenges in Cornwall and on the Isles of Scilly with Government Ministers and NHS England Officers
  • Working with my fellow Cornish MPs to ensure we apply the correct pressure on managers (here and in London) and raise particular concerns with them
  • Supporting Cornwall Hospice Care and campaigning for a better funding arrangement for the charity

Right now health managers and GPs in Cornwall, with input from patients groups and health campaigners such as West Cornwall HealthWatch, are preparing the draft Sustainable Transformation Plan (STP).

In the near future everyone will be informed regarding what the vision is for health and social care in Cornwall and on Scilly.

Next year there will be a period of public consultation so that everyone can understand what is being proposed and can contribute to the discussion. Once we have an approved STP we can apply for extra cash from a pot of £8 billion to help with the transformation process.

Personally I am arguing for the establishment of Health and Social Care Hubs (to include community beds). It would be great if we could achieve a situation where everything you need regarding health is provided locally, through community pharmacy, GP practices, the Health and Social Care Hub/community hospitals and nursing homes. It would mean you would only have to go to an urgent care hospital in extreme circumstances. This is the kind of health care we need and the Sustainable Transformation Plan is the best tool available to deliver it. However, a great deal of work is needed and considerable challenges lie ahead, not least because of significant pressures on finances in Cornwall's healthcare system.

Please be assured that I will keep you informed as new information becomes available.

Derek Thomas

Member of Parliament for St Ives