The singularity


STP plans are rightly famed for their clarity and punchy style, but what happens if you ask an advanced artificial intelligence system to run a quick translation?

The lines that follow are what an AI translation bot made of a real executive summary from an STP. We’re not making any of this up. The reader is left to judge whether the original or the translation reveals most, except you’re going to have to imagine the original or Google it.

If you decide that the AI version is the more credible and lucid then the “singularity”, the point at which Ray Kurzweil predicted machines would overtake human intelligence has been reached early. So to summarise, real bot takes on real STP: who will win? Tough call.

The bot makes a strong start with a completely authentic sounding bland, cliché ridden and ungrammatical first sentence:  “The next steps for the whole system has to address fragmentation in specialised services and delivery of commitments.”

It continues with a carefully qualified statement making it clear that the STP will do its best but can guarantee nothing: “We are committed to ensuring that patients receive the best chance for sharing the possible quality services we provide.”

Next the STP turns its attention to the symbiotic relationship between patients with complex long-term conditions and job satisfaction for GPs. Each CCG is instructed to “develop a shortlist of people with long mental wellbeing and emergency issues to help clinicians get healthy experience”.

So far, so good, but the bot’s grasp of strategy appears to falter when it addresses the financial goal of 1.6% savings in the next two years. Provider sustainability depends, it says, on “developing sites where young people can live”.

If this seems like an unlikely or even irrelevant aspiration, the STP is quick to add an important qualification: “The net cost of delivering initiatives which could achieve this plan is recognised to be less if care is not possible.” In other words, the cost of housing young people is likely to fall if local NHS services have closed and the residual funding has been diverted to the local authority.

At this point the virtual STP really nails its colours to the mast. Its most radical proposals are to get rid of GPs that go round in gangs.

“Services which are increasingly unfit for purpose like GP federations have been absorbed into a programme of capital analysis.”

Nobody could disagree with that.

Nor would anybody challenge the STP’s very sensible assertion, in line with national policy, that the long-term solution to provision of acute care lies not in hospitals but in round-the-clock village halls, walking clubs and knitting circles. “London meets requirements for 24/7 acute geographical providers within social prescribing which underpin the perfect workforce.”

Similarly, the document makes clear that it’s not the job of the STP to intervene to support the worried well and those who, through no fault of the state, have acquired mental health problems. “It is clear that patients could potentially manage their own conditions such as dementia with other public representatives and partners across the whole health economy.”

The STP goes on to make a bargain with local people. It will continue to spend recklessly on drugs in return for being allowed to ignore NICE guidance, which from now on would be the responsibility of individual patients. “We are therefore overspending on expensive treatments and financially warning them to develop their own internal illness standards for the purpose of savings.”

Judge for yourselves whether the bot’s closing statement represents the authentic voice of the STP or is a mockery of well-meaning, serious and only mildly unconstitutional organisations.

“We know this is not the best way to help. We can do something but attempts to change will be challenging.”

Editor bot: Julian Patterson


Reproduced at by kind permission of Julian Patterson.