Investment in sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) and new care models is needed so that the quality of services can be improved instead of being replaced, which will in turn, reduce costs.
This is according to Guardian writer Richard Vize, who in the past has been the editor of the weekly magazine Health Service Journal and worked on the Local Government Chronicle.
Without further investment, STPs are beginning to shows signs of faltering and the British Medical Association (BMA) recently voted for them to be abandoned, arguing that decisions must be made based on robust and publicly available evidence.
Currently, STPs are being given little funding to develop and progress, with the risk of being overwhelmed by financial pressures. Instead of hospitals asking for cash for new models and technology, they should focus on updating and improving STPs, Mr Vize argues.
Hospitals and healthcare decision makers must look at the benefits of STPs - such as substantial improvements in mental health services for children and young people. Nevertheless, regardless of these successes, there is little evidence that ideas to develop such strategies are being adopted in other parts of the country, which Mr Vize claims was the whole point of the Five Year Forward View programme.
“The uncertain future of the minority government means STPs are having to work in a fraught political environment where service reconfigurations and closures risk becoming bogged down in party battles,” writes Mr Vize.
“Even if they can secure political support, STPs are having to trim their plans because they cannot find the staff. Every part of the country is struggling to attract recruits.”
Although many NHS hospitals equate spending with higher quality, world-leading hospitals know that lean and efficient systems deliver improved care. Instead of demanding more money, says Mr Vize, hospitals should speak to staff so they can understand what works best and what needs improving.