Following the publication of Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) for Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, it is extremely worrying that findings from a recent BMA survey reveal that more than two thirds of doctors say they have not been consulted on the plans, despite assurances from ministers.
With Northumberland, Tyne and Wear facing a £960million health and social care deficit by 2021, it is, of course, a priority to address the need for urgent reform within our current model of working.
For any change of this magnitude, however, plans must be developed in a transparent way, with genuine attempts to engage both public and professional opinion.
Yet this has not happened with most Sustainability and Transformation Plans.
In theory, these plans have the potential to generate more collaboration, with the possibility of longer-term planning based on local need.
But with vital services in the North East, such as maternity and A&E services at the University of North Tees, potentially under threat, these plans need to be realistic, evidence-based and adequately funded.
Most importantly, improving patient care must be the number one priority for these plans.
We don’t want to see the Government using these transformation plans as a cover for further starving services of resources and patients of care.
Dr Mark Porter
Chairman of Council
British Medical Association