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GP sustainability plans are 'undeliverable', MPs warned

Regional sustainability and transformation plans (STPs), which have to secure the future of general practice across England, will fail because they are 'vastly overambitious', MPs have been warned.

Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, told the House of Commons Health Committee that nearly every member of NHS Providers is working on undeliverable plans to meet their 2020/21 financial allocation set out by NHS England.

Mr Hopson said members asked NHS England over the summer whether they could submit 'any plan' that met the funding requirements or if a realistic plan that outlined 'how far we can get' would suffice. But they were told they were 'not allowed to submit a plan that doesn’t balance to that 2021 figure'.

Mr Hopson told MPs: 'So our members are saying to us that they are spending quite a lot of time creating plans that in their view are not deliverable and usually involve major structural service changes because that is the only way that they can create a balanced plan.

'Our view is that that really risks blowing up and destroying a process that actually seems to us to have a huge amount of fundamentally positive benefits. And that is a consistent story that we’re getting from virtually all of our members.'

Mr Hopson warned the amount of savings targeted were 'scary' in parts of England, which are facing funding gaps of 'hundreds of millions of pounds'.

He said that providers 'are now looking at a set of figures, which to be frank, just look completely undeliverable' and 'what that means is people are coming up with vastly overambitious plans that either rely on vastly overambitious demand management plans or, more often, service reconfigurations'.

'But to be frank they’re not going to happen because they won’t command the required political support and there simply isn’t the capital available,' he added.

According to Mr Hopson, NHS providers are not opposed to system reconfiguration to meet targets, but are looking for 'a realistic stretch'.

He said: 'Our members are asking: please do not force us to come up with undeliverable, silly plans because you’re focusing on this financial gap.'

The Department of Health announced in the NHS Spending Review that investment growth in the NHS would slow from a 1.3% growth in 2017/18 to 0.3% in 2018/19 and 0.7% in 2019/20.

The news comes as Pulse reports today on a £500m STP savings plan that aims to shift workload to GPs and merge two acute trusts.

In other areas of the country, GP surgery numbers are being slashed as part of long-term plans to make savings.

In north London, practices with list sizes under 10,000 patients could face closure amid moves to create primary care ‘hubs’ with lists of 30,000.

And in the South-West, Dorset is looking to reduce the number of primary care sites in a bid to keep remaining services open for more hours and days of the week.

Readers' comments (9)

  • Pleased that somebody has the balls to say it how it is. Have they not managed to shut this man up yet?? This is very worrying.

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  • STP . Serenity , tranquility ,peace . It is an amphetamine derived hallucinogen. And some crzy fckr has been swigging out of the bottle.

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  • Slow terminal passivity.
    Mr Hopson refused to obey the memo. Bravo.

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  • rubbish - they just need innovation, resilience, to be happy, work at scale, some sort of lock in preferably 4 years, lose weight, and always remember GPs are best placed.

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  • If you use the same tools to do the same job you will get the same outcomes! My old CCG has the second biggest reduction in admissions last year in the South Coast after Torbay but without the support. The local trust however has had the highest increase in its billing and coding and is top in the country! How is that working as a sustainable and transformational plan?
    There are so many assumptions and extrapolations in all the plans that don't take into account the real world. There are expectations without discussion that one part of the system will just do the bidding of another part with no resource changing hands. I asked the Chair of the STP how he planned to move 25% of care out into the community when there is no capacity and he assumed he would retrain hospital staff to fill the void. Everyone's health is far too important to be playing these political games to appease here today gone tomorrow politicians with the faint hope of being appreciated enough to get a gong!

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  • Vinci Ho

    You see
    Those who have been telling the truth ,nothing but the truth , are always condemned to be negative and helping the situation . Oh dear, we and Pulse are so so guilty .

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  • Vinci Ho

    Correction
    .....not helping the situation.....

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  • If anyone caught PMQ's yesterday the subject of NHS funding came up. The government asked the NHS how much money they needed and they the government gave them more than they asked for.

    The trouble is now the people who said we need £8bn are realising very quickly they were very very wrong. Rather than admit that and go back to government, fall on their sword and get the NHS funded they are asking providers to make their number right.

    Beware that on the days of reckoning approaching 2020 will it be those who signed off the 5YFV asking for £8bn who will be blamed for the mess or will it be providers who are failing to deliver on the needed savings?

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  • Anonymous | Practice Manager13 Oct 2016 11:27am

    Simon Stevens has been very anxious to emphasise that it was 'at least £8bn' (top end was £30m), and dependent on the state of social care.

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