Intended for healthcare professionals


NHS in England embraces collaboration in tackling biggest crisis in its history

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 22 February 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i1022
  1. Hugh Alderwick, senior policy adviser to chief executive1,
  2. Chris Ham, chief executive1
  1. 1King’s Fund, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to C Ham C.Ham{at}

Sustainability and transformation plans are being developed as competition takes a back seat

The NHS is in the grip of the biggest crisis in its history. Hospital budgets are in deficit by £2bn (€2.6bn; $2.9bn) or more; targets for patient care are being missed; and the dispute over the junior doctors’ contract is unresolved, with consequences for patients and medical staff. There is also the possibility—even a probability—that the Department of Health will fail to balance its budget, with major ramifications for health ministers and senior civil servants.1

Enter sustainability and transformation plans (STPs), the latest addition to the NHS alphabet soup. Announced in the NHS planning guidance published in December,2 these are multiyear plans centred on the needs of local populations. NHS organisations serving these populations have been asked to come together to prepare “place based plans” by the end of June—and around 45 areas in England have been identified as the footprints on which they will be based. Additional funding for the NHS announced in November’s spending review will be allocated to …

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