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Feature Briefing

NHS sustainability and transformation plans: proposals for savings lack scrutiny

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: (Published 17 August 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4449
  1. Anne Gulland, freelance journalist
  1. London, UK
  1. agulland{at}

Local areas must balance the books in rapid plans to change health services, writes Anne Gulland

What are sustainability and transformation plans?

Sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) were unveiled in planning guidance published by NHS England in December. The local plans were described in the document as an “ambitious local blueprint for accelerating [each area’s] implementation of the Forward View.”1 The plans must have three key aims: to improve health and wellbeing, to improve quality of care, and, crucially, to achieve financial balance.

Who is drawing up these plans?

Representatives from primary and secondary care, local authorities, and other health and social care services have come together to establish 44 STP “footprints” covering the whole of England and draw up local plans. Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust, a health think tank, said that some footprints have exploited existing partnerships, while others have had to forge new …

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