Many STPs failing to engage with the voluntary sector

NAVCA has published their annual survey on relations between the voluntary sector and the local health and care system. It shows that although relationships are improving overall, in some key areas the voluntary sector is frozen out; Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) where local health services are commissioned are a particularly worrying example.

The findings are from an online survey that ran in November and December 2016 and attracted 72 responses. The answers provide valuable information about how local health bodies are working with their local voluntary sector, a key aim of the NHS’s Five Year Forward View.

STPs bring the NHS and local councils together in 44 areas across England to improve health and care. Many are criticised for not doing enough to consult with local people and NAVCA’s survey findings bear this out - only 16 per cent of respondents described involvement as good (just one said it was excellent). However, this shows that although engagement is poor overall, good engagement is possible and STP planning teams must learn from the good examples.

Other findings are:

  • Generally relationships are getting better, 43 per cent seeing an improvement and 20 per cent saying it’s getting worse. This follows a similar pattern from previous years.
  • There is voluntary sector representation on 79 per cent of Health and Wellbeing Boards, something NAVCA has long campaigned for.
  • Relationships with CCGs continue to improve but 20 per cent of respondents said the relationship is poor and 3 per cent said it is non-existent. This is worrying as NHS England recognises local infrastructure is crucial to working with the local voluntary sector.
  • The majority of NAVCA members have good or excellent relationships with their local Healthwatch.
  • NAVCA members’ involvement with JSNAs has fallen, with nearly a half saying it is poor (23 per cent) or non-existent (25 per cent).

Neil Cleeveley, Chief Executive of NAVCA, said;
“The NHS is facing unprecedented pressure and needs the help of the voluntary sector. Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, made this clear in the NHS Five Year Forward View.”

“NHS England has also said that local voluntary sector infrastructure is key to helping the NHS work with local and smaller organisations. This survey identifies where the NHS locally is getting it right and that’s to be celebrated. We need those local NHS bodies that are not engaging with their voluntary sector to raise their ambitions”.

Read the report