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Scaling up networked care

What role do STPs play in the scaling up of single specialty networked care?

Any plan to expand single specialty network care within an STP or across multiple STPs should consider the benefits networked care can bring to evolving ICSs.

The sustainability challenges facing smaller district general hospitals (DGHs) may continue to create the need for healthcare models that can provide a comprehensive range of services locally, for the best value. Our research indicates that a system approach to health and social care such as an ICS will benefit from single speciality networked care. Allowing a single provider to run an entire specialty network within an STP or ICS may offer more opportunities for efficiencies.

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Expansion within a single STP rather than across multiple STPs is considered to be more realistic, as aligning priorities and oversight becomes more complex with distance.

Agreeing strategies which can support networked care growth, such as a workforce strategy which shares staff across a system, is likely to be easier with STP partners.

Networked care providers need to understand STP system priorities and ensure that any expansion benefits the wider system as well as its own organisation.

There is a need for shared understanding about the value of the single specialty networked care model to enable adoption within and across health systems. Evidencing a network’s added value, measuring quality and the costs of both existing provision and after implementation of a network, are therefore critical to enabling expansion.



  • STPs are likely to encourage networked solutions within local health and care systems which could sustain single specialties at smaller DGHs.
  • Numeric expansion of existing networks can be delivered at pace in mature STPs.
  • Networked care providers need to align their priorities with those of an STP when expanding.
  • System partners need to have the same understanding of the value that networks can offer a system for expansion to be successful.
  • Evidencing the benefits of networked care and measuring the impact is key in gaining support from system partners.