This week the PM published the NHS Long Term Plan. Developed and driven forward by clinicians, patients and medical experts, it sets out a 10 year plan to protect the health service for generations to come and improve patient care.
As a former Health Minister, I have seen first-hand the impact that robust forward planning can make to patient care within the NHS. So I am convinced this Plan, backed with the government’s investment of £20.5 billion a year into the NHS in real terms by 2023/24, will help transform patient care. There is an appropriate focus on prevention, personal responsibility and promoting good health, with more rapid diagnostics, and a focus on new technologies and treatments to improve care.
I am particularly pleased to see real commitment to bringing the NHS into the digital age. Effective use of technology can help solve many of the issues facing our NHS today and into the future. The steps taken in the Plan will mean everyone in the country will have digital access to their GP, including being able to make appointments, manage prescriptions and view their health records online – helping to streamline the service for everyone, whether IT savvy or not.
The further investment will also mean additional staffing throughout the NHS, with tens of thousands more doctors, nurses and other health professionals. Better prevention, detection, treatment and recovery from serious diseases and record investment in primary, community and mental healthcare will help improve health outcomes for all patients. This includes earlier and more rapid diagnosis, new screening programmes and an offer of genomic testing to all people with cancer – so that in 10 years’ time, 55,000 more people survive cancer each year.
Health and care teams will be expected to work more closely together, to make sure older people are getting the support they need to remain independent, avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions.
Of course, there is an expectation that the NHS plays its part in cutting waste and uses taxpayers as efficiently as possible. So new digital ways of working and increasing back office efficiency will help save more than £700 million across the NHS.
In coming months the NHS will work with communities to see how this plan will be implemented at a local level, and I look forward to seeing plans for Shropshire.