Reaction: NHS Long Term Plan

Commenting on the NHS Long Term Plan Nuffield Trust Chief Executive Nigel Edwards said:

“The goals of this plan look right – carrying on with joining up care and improving services for older people, while pushing vital issues like heart attack survival and children’s health up the agenda. These are the most important issues for patients, and the level of ambition is good. What worries me is how difficult it will be to roll out such wide ranging changes. There are several big pitfalls ahead.”

“The extra funding will actually be below the historic average and what experts thought was needed. It’s enough to move forwards, but with little room for manoeuvre. If we face a no deal Brexit, the extra costs and tasks required would eat up the first instalments, stopping progress dead in its tracks. And if social care and public health continue to be starved of funding, a stretched NHS will have even less to spare.”

“In the NHS it is always difficult to take changes from the whiteboard to the ward. Success depends on extra effort and initiative from staff. But relations are frayed by shortages and increasing burnout, so some real leadership will be needed. Some ideas in this plan seem to assume one size fits all. But it often does not in the NHS because the distribution of people and services varies so much across England.”

“The biggest obstacle of all is the lack of key staff. Our calculations with The King’s Fund and Health Foundation show a shortfall of 250,000 by 2030, which would make delivering even current services near impossible. However, the biggest levers to resolve the workforce crisis are out of NHS England’s hands. Only bold policies on training, immigration and Brexit can deliver enough nurses, GPs and therapists for the next few years. The system of workforce planning has failed us, and needs deep reform.”

Dr Simon Wallace, Chief clinical information officer, Nuance Communications:

“This year, the NHS must demonstrate how it can encourage a culture shift to ensure that technology is being used to effectively boost efficiency, improve patient care and reduce the stress and burnout seen across the healthcare profession. To achieve this, it is important that budget allocated to digital health is utilised in this way, and not clawed back to fund other reactive needs, such as winter pressure.”

“In a stressed environment, Matt Hancock’s 10 year plan has the opportunity to maintain the enthusiasm of clinicians. Promised budgets for digital technology must remain and – should we manage to do so – changes in management will be the next key step. The introduction of digital technologies will require training and support – helping Trusts ensure the technology and new approaches are embedded and adopted.”

“With the proposed backing, the NHS will be able to increase the adoption of electronic patient records, integrate patient data in a meaningful way and link with social care systems to provide a complete citizen overview – helping clinicians provide a better services at the point of care.”

“This time, and this announcement also means global digital exemplar Trusts – and their fast followers – have the chance to demonstrate they are the world leaders in harnessing digital technology to improve the delivery of patient care. This is a unique moment in NHS history.”

Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said:

“The health of children and young people is crucial to the future of this country, but England’s levels of care and wellbeing currently lag behind the rest of Western Europe. That’s why we’re delighted to see children and young people at the heart of NHS England’s Long Term Plan.”

“Today’s announcement lays the foundations for an NHS with infants, children and young people at its core.  That is why the setting up of a new Children and Young People’s Transformation Programme is vital.  We want to see this Programme deliver a distinct and cohesive child health strategy to deliver improved neonatal care, support for those young people with long term conditions, and timely and appropriate access to services and treatment for children and young people with emotional and mental health needs. We look forward to receiving more detail on this Transformation Programme in due course.”

“This is a powerful vision for the future, but it cannot be achieved without significant investment and expansion in the child health workforce.  That workforce is made up of paediatricians, specialist nurses, therapists and others who interact daily with young people. It is encouraging to see this acknowledged by NHS England but the Workforce Implementation Plan needs to be produced without delay.”

“We are pleased to see Simon Stevens’ plan support our vision that children in England will experience a seamless service delivered by an integrated health and care system, and await more information on how this will work in practice. Children and young people make up over a quarter of our population, so they and their families must be involved in the decision-making process to develop a health system that meets their needs.”

“Investment in public health is crucial for the long term. Our College supports the Plan’s focus on prevention and tackling health inequalities which are growing across the UK but the proposals need proper funding for public health services like smoking cessation programmes and weight management clinics.  We eagerly await more detail on a public health budget in this year’s comprehensive spending review.”

Stephen Eames, the chief executive of North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust (NCUH) and Cumbria partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) is also the leader of the North Cumbria Health and Care System. He said: “The long term plan gives a clear commitment to integrating health services so the patient is at the heart of our NHS. This is something we have been working towards for some time across north Cumbria and I am delighted that we are at the leading edge of our future NHS.”

James Thirkill, Vice President and General Manager, Healthcare and Public Sector, Virtualstock, commented:

“The Long-Term Plan is a great step towards the NHS’ digital future. However, moving our health system over to digital needs a system-wide approach. Properly implementing tech in the NHS requires an overhaul of everything from managing patient records and pathways to tracking medical devices, adopting data standards and deploying interoperable technologies.”

“This is an ambitious plan but it cannot avoid the reality that the NHS must make £700 million back office savings over the next five years. Digital technology is critical to improving operational efficiency and core transactional services, which are just as fundamental improving quality of patient care and services as implementing the latest AI diagnostics.”

Dr Tony Romero, CEO of Cygnet Health Care commented:“We welcome the proposed spending boost for mental health services in the new NHS ten-year plan, which we would like to see focused on improving support for people, specifically young adults, with learning difficulties and mental health problems.”

“The lack of appropriate community-based provision across the country has caused huge pressure on acute in-patient mental health and learning disability services, which are currently under-providing for some of society’s most vulnerable people. Without adequate pre-positioned community support, including in schools, people are again being caught in the revolving door syndrome that we saw in the 1990s, when discharges and readmissions to hospital were at their height.”

“As well, many adolescents are slipping through the cracks or finding that their support has changed overnight or even been removed. The solution to this problem lies not just in promising funding but in changing the structural defects in the system. It is absolutely critical that we offer tailored services for 18 to 25-year-olds, to target issues that develop during a crucial life period.”

“The extra funding promised today is a positive step towards helping to address this urgent issue. For those who are chronically mentally ill, the answer to providing the best treatment and care lies not in more acute hospital beds, but in high dependency rehabilitation within a community setting.”

“Given the huge pressure on acute in-patient mental health services it is refreshing to now see mental health becoming, at long last, a political priority. Undoubtedly the £2.3bn funding boost allocated under the NHS 10 Year Plan is an encouraging start to what could be a genuine transformation of mental health services in the UK.”