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HCSA warns of impact on patient care as Hospital Doctors 'shut out' of STP process

HCSA has called today for a shake-up of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan process in England's NHS after research showed major concerns among hospital doctors about the current trajectory.

Over 95 per cent of hospital doctors (95.81%) felt that STPs were not being created in a transparent or open manner, with nearly two-thirds fearing this a lack of clinical engagement could have a negative impact on patient care.

HCSA is calling for urgent reforms to the STP programme to ensure that maintaining sufficient quality patient care in hospitals is a central priority.

HCSA General Secretary Eddie Saville said: “The vast majority of hospital doctors have been totally shut out of Sustainability and Transformation Plans and as a result are fearing the worst.

“The fact is that a majority of hospital doctors remain unconvinced or opposed to STPs, and until we have a full and proper assessment of their impact on acute care we cannot in all honesty endorse them to patients.

“At best these findings reflect the near total lack of engagement with clinicians around the process in the two years since it began.

“At worst they reveal hospital doctors’ concerns that they, as senior medical staff dedicated to their patients, are being systematically excluded.

“Either way the result is the same – STPs remain focused mainly on financial objectives, without sufficient clinical consideration of the consequences for front-line care in our hospitals.

“HCSA and the profession remain supportive of the stated goal of greater integration within the care system, and few would disagree with that, but it is now time for policy-makers to acknowledge our fears about the STP process, and win confidence among the profession that it can bring better patient care.

“This may mean a slower pace with proper trials and stress testing, and it will certainly mean more funding and better communication, as well as a meaningful process to measure the clinical impact of any decisions.

“However, if financial concerns are allowed to be the only driver we fear that this may end up being another costly, destabilising and abortive reorganisation that will ultimately need yet more money to fix.”