On Monday 7th January the government released its proposals for the NHS over the next ten years. To read the full proposals please click here.
The plan is committed to giving £20bn to the NHS, with a third of the money to be directed towards GPs, community care and mental health. Mental health is due to get £2.3bn extra, while GP and community care is to get £4.5bn.
How will the money be used?
NHS England states that the money would help 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 a 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
NHS England believes that this combined new vision could save 500,000 lives through preventing diseases, such as strokes, heart problems and cancer, and spotting them earlier to improve the chances of survival.
What about social care?
Many organisations have raised concerns around the plan, especially how social care will fit in with it and why there has not been a combined approach between health and social care together. The government was due to publish its green paper on social care, but this has been continuously delayed over the last year.
It is disappointing that there seems to have been a missed opportunity to have a joined up approach, especially as it is shortly the first anniversary of social care joining the government’s health department.
Without a doubt the aim should be to work towards a single health and social care system as advocated by the Barker Commission (Commission on the Future of Health and Care in England 2014). Due to the increase in life expectancy, it is clear that a different arrangement is required to tackle the growing need for care.
There is also concern from unions that to meet the plan more will need to be done to encourage, attract and retain staff, otherwise the current staffing shortages within the NHS will undermine the government’s ambitions.
While the new plan overall is welcomed, however as with everything, it will be the delivery and management of the plan at a local level that will be the true indicator as to its success or not.