Berkshire West Accountable Care System - The Shape Of Things To Come
Let's face it, if you ask most people what an STP is, a not uncommon response is a shrug of the shoulders or a glazing of the eyes and are just as likely to say "sticky toffee pudding" as "sustainability and transformation plans".
Yet these plans, drawn up in secret last year, could have a profound impact on the delivery of health and social care services across the country.
However, having skipped any real public consultation on the STP for the Reading area (which was included with Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, West Berkshire and Wokingham) local health bosses have decided to race ahead with another bowl of alphabet soup, called an ACS.
So locally our ACS, or Accountable Care System (based on the Berkshire West 10 partnership of health organisations and local councils), has been launched as part of an initial group of eight across England. The claim is that with better joined up working between GPs, hospitals, councils and other care providers, a better service will be delivered on the front-line to the patient - and a cheaper service to the tax-payer.
All good then.
But if its that good, why the lack of public engagement? Or is it that they think they know best and we should just leave it to them?
And without getting to immersed in this stuff, Simon Stevens the boss of NHS England told a Parliamentary Committee that the next step for an ACS would be become an ACO (yes, I'm sorry!) or an Accountable Care Organisation, which effectively would replace a partnership with a single business entity (based on the insurance based health systems in the United States).
However, that's in the future.
Of more immediate interest (or concern, depending on your point of view) is that all the new ACSs "must assertively moderate growth, achieve quality targets and deliver a single financial control system by April 2018".
Perhaps they will tell us sooner or later how they intend to "assertively moderate growth" in the year ahead - will this mean longer waiting lists? - because they certainly haven't told Reading Borough Council.