The Prime Minister has revealed a 10-year plan for the NHS, which will lead to “world class” care for patients in England.
Pledges on maternity care, mental health, elderly support and earlier detection and prevention of diseases are included. NHS bosses say the plan could save up to 500,000 lives.
The key focuses include:
- Better mental health care, including round-the-clock advice from NHS 111 by 2023 and tailored services for young adults. Currently, once someone in care turns 18 they are thrust into the adult system, often when they are not ready.
- Providing the best maternity care in the world by improving safety and providing greater mental health support for new parents. One in five new mothers’ struggles with mental health in the first year of her baby’s life.
- Greater control and choice in old age by expanding use of personal budgets to allow people to decide what care they want, and greater support in the community so people do not end up in hospital.
- Better prevention and detection of disease – cancer is expected to be a key focus with an ambition to increase the number of early detections from one in two cancers to three in four, which in turn will improve survival.
- Increases in the NHS workforce – currently 1 in 11 posts is vacant.
- Bringing the NHS into the digital age, including online GP booking, prescriptions management and health records.
The Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock spoke in the Telegraph about the vision to build an NHS that is fit for everyone and fit for the future.
Every day, more than a million people go to work in our health service and as we set out the NHS Long Term Plan, I want them to know that the Government is backing them – to help keep us healthy and to care for us all.
Hancock has also emphasized just how important prevention is in the fight to save more lives. He said:
We need to do far more to personally take responsibility for our own health. Prevention is also about ensuring that people take greater responsibility for managing their own health. It’s about people choosing to look after themselves better and staying active.
NHS England confirmed that they would get an extra £20bn in 2023, which will go on GPs, community care and mental health.
Mental health is due to get £2.3bn extra of the £20bn, and GP and community care is due to get £4.5bn.
Theresa May has stated that a long-term plan for the next decade was needed to ensure that the money was wisely spent.
Despite the strong proposals, there have been some criticisms surrounding staff numbers. Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathon Ashworth said:
The funding isn’t sufficient and the staffing isn’t there.
To fulfil these commitments, the plans make it clear that a “significant uplift” in international recruitment is needed right away to fill over 100,000 vacancies that currently exist.
Dame Donna Kinnair, Acting Chief Executive at the Royal College of Nursing, said:
Overseas recruitment might be a short-term solution, but it will not be enough to solve the burgeoning workforce crisis that’s jeapordising safe patient care in England. We need immediate investment in nurse education to grow the domestic workforce – it is neither sustainable nor ethical long term to rely on other countries to provide our nurses.