Long-term plan will ‘relieve pressure on the NHS’, May claims


A new 10-year plan for the NHS will cut waste and focus spending on patients, Theresa May promised.

The Prime Minister said the NHS long-term plan will help secure the future of the health service, with measures to support people at all stages of life from birth to old age.

But the Government was under pressure to set out how it will recruit extra staff to ease the strain on the NHS and address the “harsh realities” faced by workers.

Patients waiting more than 18 weeks for NHS treatment in England
Patients waiting more than 18 weeks for NHS treatment in England

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said England already needed an extra 40,000 nurses.

The long-term plan will be launched on Monday by NHS England and Mrs May said it would be a “historic step” for the health service.

The Prime Minister, who has promised an extra £20.5 billion a year for the NHS by 2023-24, said the plan would ensure that “every pound is spent in a way that will most benefit patients” to “relieve pressure” on the system.

Measures include:

– Greater support for 350,000 children and young people and 380,000 adults with mental health conditions

– Expanding the use of personal health budgets and giving people more say over their care as they age

– Giving patients digital access to their GP, including being able to make appointments, manage prescriptions and view health records online

– Improving maternity safety and giving greater mental health support to new parents

– Cutting waste, including back office savings of more than £700 million across the NHS.

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Mrs May acknowledged that the extra money for the NHS means “less room for manoeuvre” for other areas of public spending.

But writing in the Mail on Sunday, she said her own experience as a Type 1 diabetic reinforced the view that it was the right decision to make.

“Even with the full control of our money that Brexit will deliver, this commitment means we will have less room for manoeuvre in other areas.

“But when I visit hospitals and meet the NHS staff who devote themselves unsparingly to the care of their patients, when I talk to people who owe their lives to the treatment they have received from their local hospital or GP, and when I reflect on the debt that I owe to an NHS that has helped me every step of the way as I live my life with Type 1 diabetes – I am in no doubt that it was the right decision.”

She said the aim of the plan was “to provide the best possible care for every major condition, from cradle to grave”.

The Prime Minister said: “The NHS has always been the country’s most beloved public service – there to provide outstanding care to us all whenever it is needed.

“The launch of the NHS long-term plan marks an historic step to secure its future and offers a vision for the service for the next 10 years, with a focus on ensuring that every pound is spent in a way that will most benefit patients.

“This will help relieve pressure on the NHS while providing the basis to transform care with world-class treatments.

“Backed by our record investment of £20.5 billion a year in real terms by 2023/24, this shows what we can achieve with a strong economy and a focus on people’s priorities.”

The Government has promised to recruit tens of thousands more doctors, nurses and other health professionals – but its full workforce plan is not expected until later this year.

Dame Donna Kinnair, the acting chief executive and general secretary of the RCN welcomed the long-term plan but said: “When existing services are already under strain, NHS staff are waiting for a further plan to address the extra staff needed to keep care at the highest quality.

“The NHS in England is already short of more than 40,000 nurses and the figure is rising.

“NHS England and the Government must urgently address these chronic shortages to make the plan the success it deserves to be.

“If the NHS is to better meet the needs of patients and the public in these important areas of mental illness, cancer and long-term conditions, it must recognise the value of the highly skilled and qualified nursing workforce and the harsh realities on the NHS frontline.”