Is the NHS Long Term Plan Ambitious or Unrealistic?
A closer look into the new 10 year plan by Litigation Executive, Liam Bestwick
The government has recently released the new 10 year plan for the NHS. The ambitious plan aims to save up to 500,000 lives by shifting the focus from treatment to prevention and early detection. This will be done by increasing the funding for GPs, mental health and care in the community. It is thought that by increasing the funding in these areas instead of hospital care, then this will afford initial, front line NHS staff greater opportunity to treat patients early. Therefore, saving NHS costs further down the line. The plan has pledged that the NHS will receive an additional £20 billion by 2023, a third of which will be provided to GPs, mental health and community care.
This is certainly a positive move by the government to catch problems early and save significant NHS funds. The Government has advised that this money will be spent to increase mental health support in schools, provide digital access to health services such as online GP booking, new testing centres for cancer patients and DNA testing for children with cancer. Hopefully this will ensure that serious illnesses are caught early which can often lead to a greater chance of recovery.
There is some concern amongst critics of this report that shortages in staff could affect delivery of these ambitious goals. The BBC recently reported that one in 11 hospital posts are currently vacant and some senior doctors warned that hospitals were facing a “near-on impossible task.” When reporting this news, the BBC also stated that many trusts are currently missing all three key waiting time targets for A&E, cancer care and routine operations. This is felt by the general public as it is common knowledge that waiting times in the NHS are reaching breaking point. Many people are spending 12+ hours in A&E waiting for potentially lifesaving treatment. There is also concern that care homes will not receive the funding necessary to provide crucial care to the most vulnerable members of our society.
In conclusion, while this is an extremely positive move and one that is welcomed by many on the NHS frontline, the government does need to address the immediate issue of staff shortages within NHS hospitals and underfunding of care homes. This could lead to significant consequences for the older members of our society or those who are already hospitalised.