Policy News

NHS Long Term Plan

Described as a “historic” moment for the NHS that would help pay for “world class” treatments, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, asked for a long-term plan for the NHS when she announced extra funding to mark its 70th birthday, in July 2018. This will increase the NHS budget in England from £115 billion to £135 billion by 2023-24, the equivalent of annual rises of just under 3.5%. The Plan sets out specific priorities for the NHS for the next five years and some improvement ambitions over a decade.

Focusing on prevention and early detection, NHS England says the Long Term Plan could save 500,000 lives through preventing major health conditions, such as strokes, heart problems and cancer, and spotting them earlier to improve the chances of survival. The plan sets out major improvements in key areas such as mental health, maternity services and care provided in or near people’s homes.

GPs, mental health and community care will get the biggest funding increases. Mental health is set to receive £2.3 billion real terms funding growth over the next five years, while GP and community care is to get £4.5 billion. NHS England said that the extra funding will pay for:

  • Mental health support in schools and 24-hour access to mental health crisis care via the NHS 111 service.
  • Extra support in the community so patients can be discharged quickly from hospital.
  • Digital access to health services, including online GP booking.
  • Healthy living programmes for patients struggling with ill-health.
  • New testing centres for cancer patients to ensure earlier diagnosis.
  • DNA testing for children with cancer and those with rare genetic disorders to help select the best treatment.
  • Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) and Integrated Care Systems (ICSs), which are groups of local NHS organisations working together with each other, local councils and other partners, now need to develop and implement their own strategies for the next five years (by autumn 2019).

Healthcare policy is politically devolved, and the plan only applies to the NHS in England. The UK devolved administrations are drawing up their own plans. Under the Government’s funding system, they will receive an extra £4 billion between them by 2023. The Government also announced that there will be no major workforce plan issued alongside the NHS plan, as had initially been proposed. Find out more here: https://www.longtermplan.nhs.uk/

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