The Prime Minister recently announced the Government’s intention to provide the NHS with an additional £20.5 billion by 2023/24; this is the largest, longest funding settlement in the history of the NHS. This landmark settlement investment to help secure the long term future of our NHS is extremely welcome, and I hope constituents agree it demonstrates the Government’s commitment to properly funding our NHS and public services.
The Government asked the NHS to draw up a plan to secure the NHS for the long term, focusing on cutting waste and ensuring every penny is well spent. At its heart is the notion that prevention is better than cure, marking a clear shift towards our health service promoting good health not just curing illness, while helping to place it on a sustainable footing for the long term. That’s why the biggest uplift in spending will be an extra £4.5 billion for primary medical and community health services. On top of this, the LTP commits to improving detection, with more targeted screening and Rapid Access Diagnostic Centres, so that in 10 years’ time these measures will help achieve 55,000 more people surviving cancer each year, and 100,000 heart attacks, strokes and dementia cases being prevented.
The LTP will also provide funding for a larger, better supported workforce, delivering improved training opportunities, better support and career progression, stronger leadership at all levels, and a clamp down on bullying and violence to improve retention. To deliver on these commitments the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has asked Baroness Dido Harding to chair a rapid programme to engage with staff, employers and stakeholders to build a workforce implementation plan that puts NHS people at the heart of NHS policy and delivery. Her final recommendations will come later this year as part of the broader Implementation Plan that will be developed at all levels to make the Long Term Plan a reality.
I raised the specific issue of NHS recruitment with the Health Secretary in Parliament, highlighting the need to address workforce challenges in areas such as Lincolnshire which have long faced shortages of medical staff. You can see my question to him here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2019-01-07/debates/DE5BAD29-C906-481B-8886-7A2CD833A58D/NHSLong-TermPlan#contribution-2752E2F6-81BD-48B6-8070-DD6C2DB11A35
I also appreciate concerns about NHS waiting times, so I am pleased that over the next five years, as part of the LTP, the local NHS is being given enough money to grow the amount of planned surgery year-on-year, to cut long waits, and reduce the waiting list. The ability of patients to choose where they have their treatment remains a powerful tool for delivering improved waiting times and patient experiences of care. The NHS will continue to provide patients with a wide choice of options for quick elective care, including making use of available Independent Sector capacity. These steps come alongside measures to offer patients the choice of quick telephone or online consultations, saving time waiting and travelling.
I am proud of the Government’s recent record on the NHS. Despite difficult financial circumstances, NHS investment has increased every year since 2010, and I believe this new investment will help to secure the NHS for the future.