New research indicates that very few members of the general public are aware of the sustainability and transformation plans being enacted in the NHS.
An Ipsos Mori poll found only one in seven people surveyed in December were aware of their local STP.
Yet despite the efforts to deal with logistics in the NHS, nearly 3 in 4 of those surveyed were significantly concerned about the future of the organisation.
74% of those surveyed stated that they were either worried or very worried about the future of healthcare in England.
Many consider the sustainability and transformation plans to be tantamount to secret cuts, although this has been strongly denied by the authorities.
But the extent of ignorance of even their existence would indicate that the secret aspect of this assertion may be rather accurate.
Meanwhile, the survey also uncovered a large degree of apathy among the general public regarding participating in the design of NHS services, or possibly a lack of expertise being acknowledged.
Only 44% of respondents indicated that they desires to contribute to the plans, with 17% stating that public involvement was unnecessary, and 39% indicating that public involvement was preferable, but they personally had no interest in being involved.
Head of health research at Ipsos Mori, Kate Duxbury, commented on the results, indicating that the NHS has significant distance to go in order to make the STP process transparent and collaborative.
“With early indications suggesting that some STPs will involve significant reconfigurations, lessons from the past clearly demonstrate that this limited patient and public engagement needs rectifying, and quickly. Regardless of the debated potential economic and clinical benefits that may result from STPs, the prospect of changing local hospital services is one that has the power to get the public marching in the streets. Hospitals are the clearest symbols of the NHS: they are solid and tangible, it’s where you go if you really need the NHS.”
Duxbury also suggested that if the situation isn’t addressed and rectified that there could be severe consequences for the public perception of the sustainability and transformation ethos.
“Public anger around changes to these services can be substantial and leaders of previous reconfiguration attempts will doubtless remember the hostile, and sometimes abusive, public consultation meetings they have had to endure.”