NHS England says new 10-year plan could save up to 500,000 lives a year
NHS England has unveiled its 10-year plan for the health service, which sets out how the £20.5bn funding injection announced by Theresa May will be spent over the next five years.
NHS England said the money could save around 500,000 lives by preventing life-threatening diseases such as strokes, heart problems and cancer by detecting them earlier.
In the plan, unveiled by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens and the Prime Minister, GPs, community care and mental health services will be given a third of the extra £20bn that May announced in the summer for the NHS.
As part of the strategy, schools will have access to mental health support, there will be 24-hour access to mental heath crisis care via the NHS 111 service and extra support in the community to allow patients to be discharged quickly from hospital to ease the strain on nurses and staff.
The long-term plan will also include:
- An open digital ‘front door’ to the health service, allowing patients to be able to access health care at the touch of a button
- Genetic testing for a quarter of people with dangerously high inherited cholesterol, reaching around 30,000 people
- Investment in earlier detection and better treatment of respiratory conditions to prevent 80,000 hospital admissions and smart inhalers will be piloted so patients can easily monitor their condition, regardless of where they are.
Robert Colvile, director of the Centre for Policy Studies thinktank, said the priorities were "broadly correct" but that the NHS needed to focus on improving levels of productivity for the money to have a real effect.
“In particular, delivering on today’s pledges to bring the NHS into the digital age and cut waste across the service will be vital if we are to see the improvements in care that we need in the future," he said.
Associate director at the Institute of Economic Affairs Kate Andrews branded the plan a "a well-disguised effort to kick the can down the road" and accused the government of pouring "vast sums of taxpayer money into a broken system that has become an international laggard amongst the developed world".
“Far from undergoing a transformative reboot, the NHS is to remain an extremely centralised system that allows for minimal competition or patient choice. And while improving survival rates for serious conditions has been put at the forefront of this new strategy, it seems no consideration has been given to learning from the Social Health Insurance systems in Europe, under which thousands more people survive strokes and common types of cancer each year.
“The systematic problems facing the NHS have not been properly addressed. Indeed, this helps to explain why the (unfunded) extra £20.5 billion pledged to it annually by 2023-24 is only projected to keep it afloat.
“A long-term strategy for improving its structure and patient outcomes on the NHS can’t come soon enough – unfortunately, that is not what is being delivered by the government today.”