Dr Tom Jones: NHS England has stolen my pudding

STP. They've taken those three beloved initials away from us - they are utterly transformed forever.

It’s not the first time that a set of initials has suddenly taken on a drastically different meaning.

For instance, someone being ‘good at PR’, means a totally different thing, depending on whether you are standing in the boardroom at Pricewaterhouse Cooper, or in the left lateral position in a urology department.

Medical initials have always been FUBAR.

I digress. For years, (in MY universe, at any rate) the initials ‘STP’ conjured up the rich smell of warm and syrupy molasses, lovingly drowned in aromatic custard.

Yes, reader, STP stood for sticky toffee pudding: the gift that the village of Cartmel, Cumbria bestowed upon a grateful world. The king of northern puddings. A sugary gift that keeps on giving; glycosylating your haemoglobin, almost lovingly, as it does so.

Take a moment to imagine one on the table or desk in front of you. Inhale. Feels good, right?

But the STP has been cruelly taken from us by those pudding-deniers at NHS England.

We are now told that 'STP' is in fact a 'sustainability and transformation plan'.

In an even more sinister twist, these new STPs take the form of ‘footprints’, and there are 44 of these footprints that are set to thud onto every area of England any day now.

I decided to take a closer look.

Reading the NHS England description of  STPs - which runs to numerous pages - I was suffused with a warm soporific feeling and was overcome by an irresitable desire for sleep. I could almost feel the sludge being pumped through my blood vessels.

This STP experience was very similar indeed to overdosing on its namesake in Cartmel.

On closer inspection however (and using my patented Orwellian-Nonsense-Translator), ‘sustainability’ looks suspiciously like a by-word for budget cuts; and that’s never good when it comes to making a pudding of any sort.

For ‘transformation’, read: someone else will be wielding the power. The CCGs are under threat for being too slow, and the STP will usher in a legal framework to bypass GPs' policy-making processes.

And if the word ‘plan’ makes you think of something ‘cunning’, I don’t think you’d be far wrong.

In summary, this STP appears to be a recipe for further loss of control for GPs over their own - already perilous - future.

You might almost be tempted to say that we’re about to be taken into...custardy.

  • Dr Tom Jones (pictured) is vice chair of the GP Survival group and a partner near Manchester

Photo: iStock

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