The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health explores the integration of child health in STPs

policy digest

27 / 06 / 2017

The State of Child Health: Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, May 2017

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has published a short report reviewing the 44 Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs). They state that while most set out the case for change well and cover key themes (such as early intervention, new models of care in the community, better mental health services and integrated working) there is a lack of detail underpinning this vision with limited recognition given to the needs of infants, children and young people. 

Key issues arising from the report include:

  • Lack of life course approach: The majority of STPs do not consider the long-term impact of child health services.
  • Lack of recognition of the needs of infants, children and young people: There is little mention of the needs of infants, children and young people in most of the STPs. Exceptions include Birmingham and Solihull, and Greater Manchester, where children are included as a priority. In the majority of the STPs there is no acknowledgement of the need to redesign children’s health services.
  • Limited engagement with clinicians and the public: The report states that the STPs have not met their statutory duty to engage with children, young people and their families. There has also been limited involvement of paediatricians and other child health clinicians.  
  • Workforce shortages: Hospital admissions and A&E attendances are rising for children and young people, but vacancy rates in relevant posts remain high. These workforce shortages have not been addressed in the majority of STPs.

The report makes a number of recommendations, including:

NHS England and NHS Improvement to:

  • Ensure all STPs develop, implement and evaluate a strategic plan that meets the needs of infants, children and young people. 
  • Define a core set of nationally consistent metrics that encompass the process, outcomes and patient experience relevant to the needs of children and young people.

STPs to:

  • Have named accountable leads for infant, children and young people.
  • Create a strategic plan for infants, children and young people which includes securing local paediatricians and sector professionals’ involvement and compliance with NHS England’s digital child health strategy.
  • Provide regular updates by informing paediatricians, young people and families about the progress of STPs.
  • Clarify how staffing shortfalls in paediatric services will be tackled.

The RCPCH have also pledged to ensure they will be directly involved in the development and implementation of services for infants, children and young people with the STP. 

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