David Smith, Chief Executive, Hull and East Yorkshire Mind – Blog

By 14th July 2017Mental Health

Over my 20 odd years working in the voluntary sector I’ve lost count of the number of transformation projects I’ve witnessed and worked on. All started with good intentions, all talked of prevention, all talked of front loaded investment based on expected savings further down the line.

I can’t think of a single one that succeeded.

Through a combination of short term thinking, silo’d working, failed integration, incompetence or organisational self-interest I’ve witnessed millions of pounds of public money doing little more than creating a few photo opportunities and jobs for the perennial ‘transformation’ consultants.

Those of you working in the NHS, public sector or healthcare will no doubt have come across the new Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships. (New jargon 1 – STP) and their introduction in 2016 caught many of us off guard. Given the huge challenges facing the NHS and wider health care sector is another round of transformation what we need right now?

Having just left the planning meeting for the Humber Coast and Vale STP Mental Health group I can unequivocally say it is! (New jargon 2 – HCVSTP)

Surprising maybe given my natural cynicism. There are no extra funds available to transform, no additional staff, little external support and incredibly tight deadlines.

And that is exactly why I’m excited. For once we have been able to pretty much set our own agenda. Sitting around a table with people from across the wide footprint area it’s obvious how much frustration there is at the status quo and how much energy there is for doing thing differently. What draws me to this plan is that if properly coordinated it has the potential to unshackle us from historic agreements and relationships that have been the barriers to change in the past. It opens the door to new ways of doing things and for the voluntary sector in particular, offers a huge opportunity to spread our wings and work as equal partners at a scale never before available to us.

This won’t be easy. Not everything within the VCS is rosy and we need to be able to very clearly demonstrate both the outcome and cost efficiency of our work. We need to do this in a language the public sector commissioners understand and not be afraid to challenge some of the preconceptions about what we can and cannot deliver. We need to coordinate our offer on a scale never done before and take the initiative in pitching solutions that meet external quality standards, are scalable, responsive, good value and effective.

This opportunity won’t be here forever. The pace of change envisaged is fast. Very fast. If we don’t respond others will and in many ways we’ll only have ourselves to blame.

HCV STP have set themselves an ambitious target with some of the initial plans already being further refined. Engagement with the public and other stakeholders has so far been limited but we expect this to step up considerably over the coming months. Within the mental health workstream we are focussing on how people can get speedy access to care close to home, preventative services, employment, housing and better meeting the needs of children and young people.

All key areas the VCS are already working in. All areas the VCS can develop further.

The transformation dance has started. Some are learning the moves, some are deciding who to dance with and others speak volumes by their absence. Let’s make sure that this time the VCS is not only part of the dance but also the solution.

NB: HCVSTP covers the geographic areas made up of CCG’s in North Lincs, North East Lincs, Hull, East Riding, York, Scarborough and Ryedale

Stephen STP

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