Sustainability & Transformation Plans, incorporating the Better Health Programme

An independent observations report on engagement activities across County Durham.

The NHS in every area of England has been tasked with setting out how it plans to achieve wide-scale changes that make the most of the funding available and improves care for patients. These are called ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plans’ (STPs). Incorporated in the STP in the south of the County is the NHS ‘Better Health Programme’ (BHP), which is focusing on how the NHS can provide better care for patients. The BHP forms one of four priority areas in ‘Working together to improve health and care’, the draft STP for Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield, Darlington, Teesside, Hambleton, Richmondshire & Whitby.

Healthwatch County Durham is keen that people have the opportunity to understand and contribute to service developments and changes that will undoubtedly affect them as a result of both the STP proposals and BHP. We felt it was appropriate and important to provide feedback to the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), from the series of public events, to ensure that the views of the public were being represented fairly and accurately and to influence the design of future engagement activities.


  • More information should be provided to show what is being done to recruit GPs and other clinical staff, highlighting models that have worked and forecasting future trends. 
  • A document detailing the governance structure would support the public in understanding who the key partners and decision makers are and what their roles and responsibilities include.
  • The improvements being made to NHS 111 service need to be highlighted, enabling users to have confidence in making the call rather than attending A & E.
  • Travelling further distances to access services is a major concern. How this is going to be addressed should be made clear with proposals and ideas being shared at future events.
  • There needs to be more information on how the ambulance service is being developed to build confidence in service users, particularly those living in rural locations.

(Please note only some of our recommendations are stated here, please download the full report below to see them all)


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