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NHS long term plan to prioritise primary and community care


By Beth Gault
7 January 2019

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The NHS hopes to save half a million more lives by investing in cutting edge treatments and technology, according to the NHS long term plan, which will be published today.

The plan will promise to increase investment in primary, community and mental health care faster than the overall NHS budget, as part of a shift in focus away from hospital care and towards care in the community.

The NHS will also prioritise children and young people’s health, including DNA testing for children with cancer and young people who have a rare genetic disorder, and increased mental health care for children and young people.

Investment in overall mental health services will also rise to £2.3bn a year by 2023/24, which should mean two million more people can receive help over the next decade.

Ian Dalton, chief executive of NHS Improvement, said: ‘We need to build on [the NHS’s] achievements and make the best use of the new investment to fundamentally reset how the NHS is run so that our growing and ageing population can get the right care at the right time and in the right place.’

‘This means breaking down organisational barriers to take a more holistic approach to how care is delivered and paid for, embracing new and existing forms of technology, recruiting and retaining the right number of staff, and shifting the focus away from hospitals to prevention and care in the community.’

The plan has also pledged to provide genetic testing for a quarter of people with dangerously high inherited cholesterol and invest in earlier detection and treatment for respiratory conditions.

It will also ensure every hospital with a major A&E department has same day emergency care in place, and potentially invest in artificial intelligence to provide the best stroke care in Europe.

NHS England chief executive, Simon Stevens, said: ‘There’s been concern about funding, staffing, increasing inequalities and pressures from a growing and ageing population.’

‘In looking ahead to the Health Service’s 80th birthday, this NHS long term plan acts on all three of these realities. It keeps all that’s good about our health service and its place in our national life.

It tackles head-on the pressures our staff face.

And it sets a practical, costed, phased route map for the NHS’s priorities for care quality and outcomes improvement for the decade ahead.’

However, Niall Dickson, chief executive of NHS Confederation, said more detail should be made available for how these targets will be achieved. Mr Dickson said: ‘Ambition is one thing, action is something else.

‘While we await full details of the plan [today], we are clear that it needs to meet three key tests: it needs to be realistic, deliverable and affordable; it needs to enable care to shift out of hospitals and into the community to deliver care closer to, and in, people’s homes; and it must give local leaders the freedom they need to determine the future of local health services where they are.’

He added: ‘Above all, we know that simply pouring more money into how we have traditionally provided health services will not deliver the step change required to improve care for patients and make the service sustainable.’

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