NHS long term plan announcement: a welcome commitment but trade-offs are inevitable

Health Foundation response to Prime Minister’s announcement of NHS long term plan

6 January 2019

Dr Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive of the Health Foundation, said:

'The Prime Minister’s promises to improve mental health and other NHS services are welcome, but making them a reality will be extremely tough given growing pressures on services, chronic staff shortages, and cuts to other parts of the health and care system.

'While £20.5bn extra funding promised for NHS England by 2023/24 is generous compared with other public services, it is barely enough to keep pace with growing demand for care. This means trade-offs are inevitable, and these must be spelled out clearly so the public know what they can expect from the NHS.

'The NHS’s ability to deliver the long-term plan will also depend on wider political choices. Without a solution to the growing crisis in social care, people will continue to suffer unnecessarily, and more pressure will be piled on the NHS. Yet the government’s green paper on social care funding is still yet to appear, and current funding is not enough to meet rising pressures.

'Continued cuts to public health and local authority budgets will hold back the NHS’s ambitions to keep people healthy and tackle unjust differences in health between the best and worst off. Next year's public health grant would cut spending by £240m in real terms. The core public health grant has fallen by a quarter (25%) per person since 2014/15. These funding cuts come at a time when life expectancy improvements are stalling and inequalities are widening. 
 
'And a no-deal Brexit risks making the NHS’s workforce problems even worse. Currently there is a shortage of around 100,000 doctors, nurses and other crucial NHS staff.
 
'Securing the future of the NHS is therefore as much about political choices by government as what NHS leaders say in their long-term plan to be published on Monday.' 

Media contact 

Peter Stilwell
Assistant Director of Communications

peter.stilwell@health.org.uk
07771355840

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