Exclusive: Just one in five GPs consulted on STPs

Only one in five GPs have been consulted on sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) being rolled out across England, a GPonline poll suggests.

The poll of 299 GPs also revealed significant concerns that the plans will add to workload for general practice, but fail to increase funding.

Just 22% of GPs who took part in the survey said they had been consulted, while 61% said they had not. A further 17% said they did not know.

More than a third of GPs (36%) said they thought STPs would increase GP workload, while just 1% said they would reduce it. A further 11% said they would have no impact and 52% said they were unsure.

Just 6% of GPs said they thought STPs would increase funding for general practice, while 29% feared they would cut GP funding. A total of 14% thought the plans would have no impact on GP funding, while 51% were unsure.

Podcast: What do STPs mean for GPs?

One respondent to the GPonline poll said: 'It seems to be going ahead without any voice from local practices.' Another was pessimistic about the prospects that workload would ease off: 'Almost every initiative ends up increasing workload until we break, then there will be a short-term fix and then they will start piling it on again.'

The GPonline findings indicate that engagement with frontline general practice has been even more limited than a BMA poll published earlier this week suggested. The BMA poll, which also received responses from around 300 doctors, found that 36% had been consulted, and that a third of GPs had never heard of STPs.

Speaking after the BMA poll was published, the union's chair Dr Mark Porter said: 'Improving patient care must be the number one priority for these plans. Given the scale of the savings required in each area, there is a real risk that these transformation plans will be used as a cover for delivering cuts, starving services of resource and patients of vital care.

'It is extremely concerning that the majority of doctors have not been consulted on the plans, particularly as ministers have been so keen to insist that all stakeholders would be involved.

'STPs have the potential to generate more collaboration and the longer-term planning of services based on local need but it is crucial that any plans about the future of the NHS must be drawn up in an open and transparent way, and have the support and involvement of clinicians, patients and the public from the outset. At this stage nobody can be confident that this has happened.'

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