The new NHS Long Term Plan is published today with the aim to save almost half a million more lives through investment in innovative, high-end treatments and a focus on major life-threatening conditions, such as heart disease and cancer.
An extra £20 billion is to go to the NHS, and GPs, mental health and community care will get the biggest funding increases with the aim to curb reliance on hospitals. Investment in primary, community and mental health care will fund a new service model across England where health bodies come together to provide better, joined-up care in partnership with local government.
The NHS Long Term Plan will ensure the NHS is fit for the future by using the latest technology, such as digital GP consultations and genomic testing of children with cancer, in addition to early detection, improved stroke, respiratory and cardiac services, and a renewed focus on disease prevention to help keep older people out of hospital, and living longer and more independent lives.
The NHS Long Term Plan will also:
- Allow patients access to health care services at the touch of a button, for example online booking for GP appointments
- Provide genetic testing for people who are at dangerously high risk of stroke due to inherited high cholesterol levels
- Expand mental health support in schools and the community for children and young people, in addition to 24-hour access to mental health crisis care via the NHS 111 service
- Use state-of-the-art scanning technology and artificial intelligence to improve stroke services
- Invest in early detection and improved treatment of respiratory conditions
- Provide extra support for A&E departments and in the community so patients can be discharged quickly from hospital
- Enable DNA testing for children with cancer and those with rare genetic disorders to help select the best treatment.
We are pleased to see that the Long Term Plan includes all cancers, rather than focusing on the big 4 (colorectal, prostate, lung and breast). The cancer commitments are relatively few in this Long Term Plan for the whole of NHS England; however, we welcome the following cancer-specific ambitions:
- To ensure that 75% of cancers are diagnosed at stage 1 and 2 by 2028
- To collect data for all patients in 2019 to support the development of the faster diagnosis standard, which will be rolled out from 2020 to ensure people have a definitive diagnosis within 28 days from a referral by their GP or from screening
- To increase the roll out of Rapid Diagnostic Centres (RDCs) from 2019 to help the diagnosis of cancer, and allowing self referral by patients
- To extend the use of molecular diagnostics
- To ensure that from 2021 all patients will have access to the right support, including a personalised care plan and either a Clinical Nurse Specialist or a support worker.