What good looks like going forward


Sustainability and transformation partnerships are the hatcheries of tomorrow’s integrated care systems. What are the characteristics, values and behaviours of a successful STP? Martin Plackard investigates.

1. Local system leadership

All good leadership starts with vision. Your vision should include five, six or eight priorities. The exact number is up to you, but you will almost certainly want to include healthier lives, happier people, working together better, prevention, engaging more meaningfully and driving delivery. For example, we run engagement events to discuss how to make the NHS Long Term Plan meaningful for local communities. It’s part of our joined-up focus.

2. Workforce

It’s your job to solve the workforce crisis. Start with a local conversation. Does everyone understand the issues? Do we need more workshops to talk about them? Are you doing enough to advertise for GPs and nurses on Twitter? What more do we need to do make this a great place to work? Are we really passionate about it?

3. Relationship management

When Blithering Council said it no longer wanted to come to STP meetings or have anything to do with us, we asked ourselves a few tough questions. What do they really mean by that? What could we do differently to increase their engagement? Should we have had different biscuits at the meetings? In the end we decided they weren’t “leaving” but rebasing the relationship in a new, looser model of governance. We all learnt a valuable lesson from that and moved on.

4. Remembering to say thank you

Always let your partners know how much you value their contribution. Telling someone they have been instrumental in enabling delivery while strengthening regional co-ordination can make all the difference.

5. Be an excitement leader

As a leader it’s not enough to work with partners, meet people, take on new challenges or be transforming change, you need to be excited, honoured and humbled to take part. You need to show unwavering commitment to collective ownership of system improvement, sharing best practice and making a real difference to the people of your population footprint. It’s not just about sticky notes, pastries and fab ideas, it’s about outcomes. As we like to say: “Together we can turn ideas into action.” In this phase of our STP’s life, we see our role mainly in terms of building readiness. It’s a big ask.

6. Tackling health inequalities

This is one of the most important goals of the NHS Long Term Plan. The stark reality is that people in some areas have nicer lives than people in others. Take care to get the language right. Your job is to tackle, address or focus on health inequalities. Be careful not to use words that might have unintended consequences such as “reduce”.

7. Local accountability

It is really important that local people and communities have a strong sense of ownership and feel as if they are part of the decision making process. We deliver local accountability through our newsletter Fit for the Future Together and our Twitter feed where we can interact with the public in real time (or the following day for tweets after 5pm).

8. Innovation and digital maturity

We are lucky to have a secretary of state for health and social care who is committed to delivering the digital future. In Blithering we have responded to Matt Hancock’s call for radical modernisation by immediately increasing the number of emails managers are expected to send every day and by pledging to be “fax-free by ‘23”.

But that’s not enough. We’re also introducing free transistor radios for the elderly to combat loneliness and every GP surgery will have at least one AI Champion to help patients with the touch-screen appointments system.

9. Make every word count

It’s important to let people know you are developing joined-up strategies to meet the challenges that matter to them.

We use social media to reach out and let the people of Blithering know what the STP is doing to take charge of the future strategic direction and sustainability of the critical services they depend upon. Recent campaigns have focused on the health benefits of porridge, how your local pharmacist can help if you have acne and why a roast dinner may sometimes leave you feeling bloated.

10. Embrace the journey

Our passion and commitment run through everything we do like a stick of rock. It’s embedded in the new strapline of the Blithering Healthier Happier Partnership. In 2017 we talked about “Building on Future Excellence”. In 2019 the message has moved on. “Towards Outstanding” encapsulates how far we’ve come and hints at the much that remains to be done.

We are all on a journey.

Personal assistant to Mr Plackard: Julian Patterson




Reproduced at TrainingPrimaryCare.com by kind permission of Julian Patterson.