Somerset Sustainability and Transformation Plan


Willow Man by Paul Townsend

Somerset’s draft Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) was published on 10th November 2016. The document contains plans that are intended to affect significantly the provision of NHS and social care services for the people of Somerset. In order to ensure that our community receives the best care possible in future, it seems vital that Somerset residents spend time investigating and questioning the STP and take part in the various consultations that are planned across the county.

In an earlier article the League of Friends (LoF) gave some background information on the STP. Due to our close relationship with South Petherton Community Hospital, and our commitment to supporting community health and wellbeing, we are keen to do what we can to inform our members about the STP. Our intent is not to campaign for a particular scenario, rather, we are committed to open and critical engagement with the consultation process and to bringing our community’s attention to it.

One could argue that for the nation, the STP is a radical initiative with potentially massive implications for us all. The foreword of the draft STP states that the system’s senior leadership team understands that ‘the health and care system in three years will be radically different.’ In order to get the ball rolling, our first questions about the plan follow:

1. On the same day that the Somerset plan was published, Bath and NE Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group and the Council announced an enormous £700 million contract with the company Virgin Care to deliver health and social care in the region for the next seven to ten years. The Somerset STP states that collaboration is central for delivering services in our county.

Q1. Which organisations does Somerset STP foresee delivering future health and social care provision?

2. Reducing the amount of community beds in the county appears to be an aim for those who devised the plan. For instance, it is stated that ‘significant costs are tied up in provision of heavily bed-based community model’, ‘…a reduced reliance on acute services and community beds’, and elsewhere  ‘…resulting in redirection of resource from traditional bed based models of care into the community and a ‘right sizing’ of the whole system.’ Obviously, a plan that aims to reduce the amount of hospital beds available in the county may affect South Petherton Community Hospital and its highly regarded Mary Robertson Ward.

Q2. Is it anticipated that the ‘right sizing of the whole system’ will reduce the number of community hospitals in the region?

3. Focusing on South Petherton Community Hospital, which is a specialist in stroke rehabilitation (The League of Friends currently funds research into an innovative therapy at the hospital which aims to support those recovering from strokes). The draft STP claims that it will prioritise its efforts to focus on the highest burdens of disease, such as cardiovascular disease (which includes stroke). Currently, specialist stroke rehabilitation beds are also located in two other community hospitals – Shepton Mallet and Williton.

Q3. Does the STP anticipate reducing the number of community hospitals that provide stroke rehabilitation beds?


Today, the BBC reported that the King’s Fund Chief Executive, Chris Ham, said the process for developing the draft STPs across England ‘had gone against the established “rules” of good engagement and consultation’. The King’s Fund report went on to say ‘the approach has meant that the views of the public and frontline staff have largely been absent in the process so far.’ 

The League of Friends of South Petherton Hospital would be happy to receive any questions or insights that you have regarding the STP and publish them on our website. We have been advised by the leadership of the Somerset STP that future public engagement is an important part of the process of developing the plan. We look forward to engaging productively with the draft STP and the consultation process in order to support our community.


View from South Petherton Community Hospital by Stevekeiretsu

Full version of the Somerset STP

Read the full copy of the Somerset Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP).

A copy of the full Somerset STP proposals are available at the link below or by emailing:

Or writing to:

Somerset Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP).




BA22 8HR

Background information on the STP and the dates of future leadership meetings in 2016.