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The government is launching the NHS Long Term Plan, which it claims will save almost half a million more lives with practical action on major killer conditions and investment in cutting edge treatments.
The blueprint to make the NHS fit for the future will use the latest technology, such as digital GP consultations for all those who want them, coupled with early detection and a renewed focus on prevention to stop an estimated 85,000 premature deaths each year.
NHS leaders suggest that this will help prevent 150,000 heart attacks, strokes and dementia cases while more than three million people will benefit from new and improved stroke, respiratory and cardiac services over the next decade. Patients are also expected to benefit from services ranging from improved neonatal care for new parents and babies to life-changing stroke therapy and integrated support to keep older people out of hospital, living longer and more independent lives.
The NHS Long Term Plan also sets out plans for whole genome sequencing to be offered for children with cancer and young people who have a rare genetic disorder, alongside plans for three quarters of cancer patients to be diagnosed early, when the condition is easier to treat, up from half at present, saving 55,000 lives a year.
The government announcement shows that GPs, mental health and community care will get the biggest funding increases, curbing the reliance on hospitals, which will get a smaller cut of the budget - leading some doctors to warn they were facing a ‘near-on impossible task’.
Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, said: “The NHS has been marking its 70th anniversary, and the national debate has rightly centred on three big truths. There’s been pride in our health service’s enduring success, and in the shared social commitment it represents. There’s been concern – about funding, staffing, increasing inequalities and pressures from a growing and ageing population. And there’s also been legitimate optimism – about the possibilities for continuing medical advance and better outcomes of care.
“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.”
Prime Minister Theresa May 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 ten 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.”
Responding to the NHS Long Term plan, Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, said: “The Tories have spent nine years running down the NHS, imposing the biggest cash squeeze in its history, swinging cuts to public health services and slashing social care services. They have failed to recruit and train the staff desperately needed leaving our NHS struggling with chronic shortages of over 100,000 staff.
“The NHS needs a credible fully funded plan for the future, not a wish list to help Theresa May get through the coming months. The NHS needs a funding settlement to provide the quality care patients deserve, not the ‘stand still’ budget experts agree isn’t enough, that was announced last June. Labour in government will give the NHS the funding it needs, tackle the recruitment crisis and provide a clear plan to reduce waiting lists, restoring the standards of care patients expect and deserve as outlined in the NHS Constitution.”
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