Health plan to save half a million lives, says NHS England

NHS England (NHSE) has pledged to ‘save almost half a million more lives’ with the release of its ten-year plan.

The organisation said the plan marks the first time the health service will see guaranteed investment reach primary, community and mental health services.

Last year, Prime Minister Theresa May announced a £20.5bn a year cash injection for the NHS.

Of this, £4.5bn will be used to deliver joined-up care in partnership with local government, according to NHSE.

The health service has been hit with unprecedent ongoing demand for its services, while the government’s target that 92% of patients wait no longer than 18-weeks for elective procedures has not been met since 2016.

In a bid to reduce hospital admissions, technology will play a key role in service delivery over the decade with NHSE pledging to ‘open the digital door’ in the health service. It follows the Department of Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock’s ban on fax machines in the NHS last month.

Digital GP appointments will be more widely available, along with investment in early detection services.

It has also mooted using AI to help it become the leading provider of stroke care in Europe.

Investment in mental health services is expected to see greater support for people with anxiety and depression with £2.3bn of extra money pledged by the government by 2023/24.

Some 345,00 more children and young people will be supported through expanded community-based services and 24-hour access to crisis care assistance via NHS 111. 

NHSE chief executive Simon Stevens said: ‘There’s been concern – about funding, staffing, increasing inequalities and pressures from a growing and ageing population.

‘This 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 added: ‘Backed by our record investment of £20.5bn 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.’

However, Niall Dickson, NHS Confederation chief executive, said: ‘We will need to see more detail of how this [plan] will be achieved – budgets for public health have been significantly cut in recent years.

‘With 100,000 vacancies across the NHS in England, even if you gave the health service its £20bn up front, it would not be able to provide the care people need.

‘It is therefore disappointing that the planned workforce strategy looks as if it will be delayed until later this year,’ he said.

Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘The Tories have spent nine years running down the NHS, imposing the biggest cash squeeze in its history.

‘They have failed to recruit and train the staff desperately needed leaving our NHS struggling with chronic shortages of over 100,000 staff.’