Last reviewed 9 June 2016

What are sustainability and transformation plans?

The NHS Planning Guidance for England for 2016–2017 sets out a different way of planning health and social care. Rather than planning for individual organisations, this year (2016–2017) the planning is by location or “place-based planning” centred on local populations. Thoreya Swage investigates.

The aim of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) is to drive sustainable and robust transformation in health and social care outcomes over the five-year period between 2016 and 2021.

What is covered in the STP?

The STP is a strategic plan and so all the activities commissioned by the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and NHS England should be included, such as:

  • hospital, community and mental health care

  • specialist services

  • primary medical services (including general practice, high street dental services, community pharmacists and optometrists)

  • health prevention

  • social care

  • integrated care.

Who is involved in the STP?

All NHS providers (acute, community, mental health and ambulance trusts), CCGs, Local Authorities, and other health and care services located in a defined geographical area are involved in developing and agreeing the STP.

An STP is not a statutory body; it is a means to facilitate discussions between health and social care to deliver services across a whole system.

How many “footprints” are there?

All the organisations involved in an STP make up a geographical “footprint” where they can work together to make robust plans to transform the way that health and social care is delivered for their populations.

There are 44 footprints that are mostly centred on a local authority area, with the exception of one — Frimley Health which is centred on a provider catchment area.

What is the process?

Each footprint has identified a system (STP) leader, from one of the organisations represented within the STP.

It is recognised that there are layers of plans that sit above and below the STP level and that the boundaries may change over time as the process matures. For example, the STPs are expected to incorporate the work currently taking place with respect to the new models of care such as multispecialty community providers (MCPs).

By June 2016, each STP will have made explicit the major local challenges against the three key “gaps” (health and wellbeing, care and quality, and finance and efficiency) and their plans to meet them.

It is expected that implementation of the STP will start in the autumn of 2016.

Is there any funding?

NHS England has stated that STPs are to be used as the mechanism for the application for programmes (eg new models of care such as MCPs) which have transformation funding from 2017–2018 onwards. This funding is £2.1 billion for 2016–2017, increasing to £2.9 billion the following year and rising to £3.4 billion by 2020–2021.