What it the NHS long term plan
The NHS Long Term Plan sets out many aims for the NHS service over the next 10 years.
The plan builds on current thinking about the need to integrate care to meet the needs of a changing population. More NHS patients will be cared for at home and in their community to avoid them going into hospital and NHS organisations will work together more.
Primary and community services
Improving care outside hospitals is one of the headline commitments. By 2023/24, funding for primary and community care will be at least £4.5 billion higher than in 2019/20.
General practices will join together to form primary care networks – groups of neighbouring practices typically covering 30–50,000 people.
The plan commits to developing ‘fully integrated community-based health care’. This will involve developing teams including GPs, pharmacists, district nurses, etc working across primary care.
Within five years, all patients will have the right to access GP consultations via telephone or online.
Priorities for treatment/care include: cancer, cardiovascular disease, maternity and neonatal health, mental health, stroke, diabetes and respiratory care. There is also a strong focus on children and young people’s health and better transitions between children and adult services
Maternity and neonatal services
A range of commitments include: improving continuity of care during pregnancy, birth and after birth, bed capacity in intensive neonatal care will increase in areas where this is currently lacking and mental health services and other support for pregnant women and new mothers will be improved.
The plan aims to boost survival by speeding up diagnosis. It includes a package of measures to extend screening and overhaul diagnostic services with the aim of diagnosing 75 per cent of cancers at stages 1 or 2 by 2028.
Mental Health care
Mental health funding will outstrip total NHS spending growth until 2024 so that by the end of the period, mental health investment will be at least £2.3 billion higher in real terms.
The Plan aims to create a more comprehensive service – particularly for those seeking help in crisis – with a single point of access for adults and children and 24/7 support with appropriate responses across NHS 111, ambulance and A&E services.
Community mental health services will be redesigned by 2024; reinforcing psychological therapies, physical health care and employment support, as well as introducing personalised care and restoring substance misuse support within NHS mental health services.
There will be expansion of services for children and young people – for example, the creation of ‘mental health support teams’ in schools.
There is also a strong focus on improving care for people with learning disabilities and autism.
The plan includes a pledge to use technology to fundamentally redesign hospital outpatient services over five years. The aim is to reduce face-to-face appointments by up to a third in order to provide a more convenient service for patients, free up staff time and save £1.1 billion a year if appointments were to continue growing at the current rate.