Hospital Dr News

Ambitious 10-year NHS Plan could be derailed by current challenges and funding

Brexit and staff shortages threaten to undermine the ambitious 10-year NHS Plan launched today.

That’s the view of health experts as the Government outlined their intentions to increase NHS funding by £20bn per year by 2023.

NHS chiefs claim the new 10-year plan for England could save up to 500,000 lives by focusing on prevention and early detection.

A third of the extra £20bn the NHS will receive is due to be spent on GPs, community care and mental health.

Currently they account for less than a quarter of spending, while hospitals take up around half of the £114bn frontline budget.

Mental health is due to get £2.3bn extra of the £20bn, while GP and community care is to get £4.5bn.

But, health experts point to the plan doing little to tackle workforce shortages or provide adequate funding for both public health and social care.

NHS England said the plan will also help fund:

  • 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 and reduce the number of outpatient appointments by a third
  • Digital access to health services, including online GP booking and remote monitoring of conditions such as high blood pressure
  • More social prescribing to give GPs a range of options to tackle social problems like loneliness through connecting people to activities such as choirs and arts groups
  • 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

The plan also puts a focus on further integrating care and delivering more personalised services.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The NHS long term plan, backed by a historic commitment of an extra £20.5 billion a year from taxpayers, marks an important moment not just for the health service but for the lives of millions of patients and hardworking NHS staff across the country.

“Whether it’s treating ever more people in their communities, using the latest technology to tackle preventable diseases, or giving every baby the very best start in life, this government has given the NHS the multi-billion-pound investment needed to nurture and safeguard our nation’s health service for generations to come.”

RCP registrar Professor Donal O’Donoghue said: “The NHS Long Term Plan outlines specific areas of improvement in areas such as heart disease, stroke and cancer that will provide much needed sustainability to significant parts of the NHS. We welcome the focus on changing models of working with greater integration, making sure care is person-centred, and changing outdated systems such as outpatient clinics.

“We know that frontline staff today will be working out what the plan means for them and the patients they care for. The plan sets out some small but important changes that should help improve doctors’ morale, from changes to training programmes permitting ‘step in step out’ training and increasing focus on the health and wellbeing of staff.

“However if we are to see a real reduction in burn out rate, the only way to achieve this in the medium to long term is by dramatically increasing medical school places, and the supply of doctors. We encourage ministers to move beyond considering the expansion of the medical training initiative, and to commit to the expansion this week.”

Nuffield Trust Chief Executive Nigel Edwards said: “The goals of this plan look right – carrying on with joining up care and improving services for older people, while pushing vital issues like heart attack survival and children’s health up the agenda. These are the most important issues for patients, and the level of ambition is good. What worries me is how difficult it will be to roll out such wide ranging changes. There are several big pitfalls ahead.

“The extra funding will actually be below the historic average and what experts thought was needed. It’s enough to move forwards, but with little room for manoeuvre. If we face a no deal Brexit, the extra costs and tasks required would eat up the first instalments, stopping progress dead in its tracks. And if social care and public health continue to be starved of funding, a stretched NHS will have even less to spare.”

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