RCGP ambassadors denied access to STP proposals, college warns

RCGP ambassadors employed to represent GPs in the development of sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) have been blocked from seeing the emerging proposals, the college's vice chair has said.

Professor Kamila Hawthorne

Professor Kamila Hawthorne said the college was ‘very worried’ that NHS leaders in some STP areas were planning for falling GP numbers.

GPonline has reported on plans for Somerset that project a one-fifth reduction in GP numbers, while in part of London GP numbers could fall by half.

College ambassadors, Professor Hawthorne told a Westminster Health Forum policy conference on Thursday, had in some areas ‘real difficulty in getting into the STP and actually seeing what the STP plans are’.

Podcast: what do STPs mean for GPs?

LMC leaders across England have complained about being ignored or excluded from the process whereby 44 collaborations on local NHS organisations are drawing up plans to implement the Five Year Forward View, make efficiency savings and allocate transformation funding.

Primary care minister David Mowat told the RCGP annual conference in October that STPs would be blocked if they are opposed by a consensus of GPs.

NHS England, which is leading the process with NHS Improvement, told GPonline in response to questions as to how STPs could be blocked by GP consensus that RCGP ambassadors were providing ‘valuable support’ to the process, and that GPs would be able to engage with the proposals. ‘The concrete test over the next year and beyond is that they implement locally the GP Forward View,' a spokesman said.

GP funding

Speaking at the same event NHS England’s director of primary care GP Dr Arvind Madan said that STPs would be required to direct 15% to 20% of the STP fund to primary care.

The RCGP is now conducting a review of STPs, said Professor Hawthorne, ‘to see exactly how far they have gone in developing primary care and putting funding into primary care’.

‘It's a mixed bag from what we can see at an early stage,' she added. ‘But there will be a report coming out, probably in January, from the RCGP that will actually lay out, clearly, whether general practice is really being recognised by STPs. And I know it's a problem in some areas, but actually it's not a problem in all, which is interesting.’

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