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Plan will make NHS ‘world-class employer’, claims Hancock

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Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock has promised to improve working conditions for NHS staff, with better training and more help with career progression.

Staff will have greater flexibility in their work, be supported more with their own mental health and wellbeing, and benefit from other initiatives that will make it a “world-class employer”, he said.

“Ultimately staff are the heart of the NHS – the people who work in the NHS”

Matt Hancock

These were among the pledges made today by Mr Hancock while giving an oral statement in the Commons on the new NHS Long Term Plan published by NHS England.

However, opposition MPs from Labour and the Liberal Democrats said the plan would be undermined by insufficient staff and other resources.

The plan, published on Monday, sets out how the new £20.5bn funding settlement announced by the prime minister in June will be used.

Mr Hancock said the financial settlement would “safeguard the NHS for the long term” and also “help address today’s challenges”, noting that it was facing unprecedented levels of demand.

“At the heart of this plan is the principle that prevention is better than cure,” he said. “In the future, the NHS will do much more to support people to stay healthy, rather than just treat them when ill.”

“At the heart of this plan is the principle that prevention is better than cure”

Matt Hancock

As a result, Mr Hancock said the biggest increase in funding – at least £4.5bn – would go to primary and community care, to provide better access to GPs and greater flexibility in how to contact them.

In addition, he organisations across the NHS, local councils, innovators, and the voluntary sector, would “work more closely together” and there will be a “renewed clampdown on waste”.

But much of the health secretary’s statement to the Commons focused on workforce issues and highlighted the need to support NHS staff through measures including better training, technology and efforts to boost recruitment and retention.

“Ultimately staff are the heart of the NHS – the people who work in the NHS. And the Long Term Plan commits to major reforms to improve working conditions for NHS staff, because morale matters,” he said.

“Staff will receive better training and more help with career progression,” he said. “They will have greater flexibility in their work, be supported by the latest technology that works for them, and be helped more with their own mental health and wellbeing.

“We will bring in training, mentoring and support to develop better leadership in the NHS at all levels,” he said. We will build on work already going on to recruit, train and retain more staff so we can address critical staff shortages.”

“The reality is the NHS will continue to be held back by cuts and chronic staff shortages”

Jonathan Ashworth

He added: “The plan published today is the next step in our mission to make the NHS a world-class employer and deliver the workforce the NHS needs.”

Mr Hancock noted that, separate to the overarching plan announced today, he had asked for a “workforce implementation plan” to be developed to focus on bringing in the staffing measures. A first draft is due in March.

Referring to patients, he said the plan would lead to high-quality care closer to home, support older people to stay healthy and independent for longer, and tackle unacceptable health inequalities.

It would also mean more personalised care, more social prescribing and personal health budgets, he said, as well as access to new digital services to “bring the NHS into the 21st century”.

In addition, Mr Hancock cited aims to improve maternity services and care for children and young people with learning disabilities, and to move towards “parity of esteem” between mental and physical health.

“We are going to increase mental health service budgets not by £2bn, but £2.3bn a year,” he said. “For the first time ever, we will introduce waiting time targets for community mental health so that people get the treatment they need when they need it.”

“Delivering this ambitious plan is likely to be fatally undermined by insufficient resources”

Norman Lamb

Meanwhile, highlighting the prevention agenda, he also said the plan would focus on the “most common” causes of mortality, including cancer, heart disease, stroke and lung disease.

“The health service will take a more active role in helping people to cut their risk factors: stopping smoking, losing weight and reducing alcohol intake,” the health and social care secretary told the Commons in his statement on Monday.

Lastly, he said the NHS would improve the “quality and speed of diagnosis and improve treatment and recovery”, as well as upgrading urgent care “so people can get the right care more quickly”.

“Our Long Term Plan will ensure the NHS continues to be there, free at the point of use, based on clinical need, not ability to pay, better resourced with more staff,” he added.

But Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health and social care secretary, warned that the ambitions set out by the plan would be held back by staff shortages.

Labour Party

Copy of New shadow health secretary in latest Labour reshuffle

Jonathan Ashworth

He also attacked previous NHS funding levels under both the coalition and Conservative governments, and also the reforms introduced in 2012 by former health secretary Andrew Lansley.

“While the aspirations for improving patient care NHS England has outlined today are welcome, the reality is the NHS will continue to be held back by cuts and chronic staff shortages,” he said.

“They have failed to recruit and train the staff desperately needed, leaving our NHS struggling with shortages of over 100,000 staff,” said Mr Ashworth.

He added: “The Tories have spent nine years running down the NHS, imposing the biggest cash squeeze in its history, with swingeing cuts to public health services and the slashing of social care services.”

Referring to the reforms, he said: “The fact NHS bosses are now proposing significant changes to the Health and Social Care Act confirms what a wasteful, bureaucratic disaster it was in the first place.

“Labour has long called for this act to be binned and will study legislative proposals carefully,” he said. “The Tories must apologise for wasting billions of taxpayers’ money.”

Norman Lamb

Norman Lamb

Norman Lamb

Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat health spokesman and a former health minister, also focused on the current parlous state of the NHS workforce when compared to demands for services.

“Delivering this ambitious plan is likely to be fatally undermined by insufficient resources, a staffing crisis and a failure to address the disastrous situation with social care,” he said.

“The government’s commitment to a new focus on prevention rings hollow when the very services which help prevent elderly people ending up in hospital are at breaking point and vital public health budgets are progressively cut back,” he added.

  • More details on the NHS Long Term Plan can be found on a website created by NHS England along with the document itself.

 

Secretary of State’s oral statement on the NHS Long Term Plan

British houses of parliament

British houses of parliament

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has today delivered an oral statement to the House of Commons.

Mr Speaker, with permission, I would like to make a statement about the NHS Long Term Plan.

The plan sets out how we will guarantee the NHS for the future. It describes how we will use the largest funding settlement in the history of the NHS to strengthen it over the next decade, rising to the challenges of today and seizing the opportunities of the future.

It’s worth taking a moment to reflect on when the NHS was first proposed from this dispatch box by Churchill’s Government in 1944.

When even after the perils of war, infant mortality was nearly 10 times now, when two-thirds of men smoked and life expectancy was just 66.

Ten years before we knew the structure of DNA, 4 decades before the first MRI.

The NHS has throughout its history led the world. But one constant has been that core principle set out by the national government – that the NHS should be available to all, free at the point of use, according to need, not ability to pay.

Mr Speaker, as last year’s 70th anniversary celebrations proved, the NHS is one of our proudest achievements.

We all have an emotional connection to it, our own family story, and we all owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the people who make the NHS what it is, and work so hard, especially during the winter months when the pressures are greatest.

Because we value the NHS so much, the new £20.5bn funding settlement announced by the Prime Minister in June provides the NHS with funding growth of 3.4% a year in real terms over the next five years.

This means the NHS’s budget will increase in cash terms by £33.9bn, rising from £115bn this year to:

  • £121bn next year
  • £127bn in 2020 to 2021
  • £133bn in 2021 to 2022
  • £140bn in 2022 to 2023
  • and then £148bn in 2023 to 2024

This rise of over £1bn more in cash terms than proposed in June, delivers on our commitment to the NHS and will safeguard the NHS for the long term.

This will help address today’s challenges. The NHS is facing unprecedented levels of demand. Every day, the NHS treats over 1 million people.

Last year, NHS staff carried out two million more operations and saw over 11 million more outpatients compared to 2010.

Despite record demand, performance was better this December than last.

As well as addressing today’s challenges, the NHS Long Term Plan sets the NHS up to seize the opportunities of the future.

At the heart of this plan is the principle that prevention is better than cure.

Health and social care secretary

Matt Hancock

Source: Department of Health and Social Care

Matt Hancock

In the future, the NHS will do much more to support people to stay healthy, rather than just treat them when ill.

So, first, the biggest increase in funding – at least £4.5bn – will go to primary and community care, because GPs are the bedrock of the NHS.

That means patients will have improved access to their GPs and greater flexibility about how they contact them.

Better use of community pharmacists, better access to physiotherapists, and improving the availability of fast and appropriate care to help communities keep people out of hospital altogether.

Next, the principle is that organisations across the NHS, local councils, innovators, and the voluntary sector, will all work more closely together so that they can focus on what patients need.

Next, there will be a renewed clampdown on waste so we can ensure every penny of the extra money goes towards improving services and giving taxpayers the best possible return.

Mr Speaker, ultimately staff are the heart of the NHS – the people who work in the NHS. And the Long Term Plan commits to major reforms to improve working conditions for NHS staff, because morale matters.

Staff will receive better training and more help with career progression. They will have greater flexibility in their work, be supported by the latest technology that works for them, and be helped more with their own mental health and wellbeing.

This already happens in the best parts of the NHS and there’s been a huge amount of work to support the people who work in the NHS. But I want to see it happen evrywhere.

We will bring in training, mentoring and support to develop better leadership in the NHS at all levels.

We will build on work already going on to recruit, train and retain more staff so we can address critical staff shortages.

The plan published today is the next step in our mission to make the NHS a world-class employer and deliver the workforce the NHS needs.

To deliver on these commitments, I have asked Baroness Dido Harding to chair a rapid programme of work, which will engage with staff, employers, professional organisations, trade unions, think tanks and others to build a workforce implementation plan that puts NHS people at the heart of NHS policy and delivery.

NHS Improvement

Dido Harding

Dido Harding

Baroness Harding will provide interim recommendations to me by the end of March on how the challenges of supply, reform, culture and leadership can be met, and final recommendations later in the year as part of the broader Implementation Plan that will be developed at all levels to make the Long Term Plan a reality.

Mr Speaker, that is the approach we will be taking to support the NHS over the next decade, but what does it mean for patients and the wider public?

It means patients receiving high-quality care closer to home.

Supporting our growing elderly population to stay healthy and independent for longer.

More personalised care, more social prescribing, empowering people to take greater control and responsibility over their own health through prevention, and personal health budgets.

It means access to new digital services to bring the NHS into the 21st century.

More support for mothers by improving maternity services, more support for parents and carers in the early years of a child’s life so we can be the best place in the world – and this country can be the best place to be born, in every sense.

We will improve how the NHS cares for children and young people with learning disabilities and autism by ending inappropriate hospitalisation, reducing over-medicalisation, and providing quality care in the community.

The NHS will tackle unacceptable health inequalities by targeting support towards the most vulnerable in areas of high deprivation.

And to help make a reality of the goal of parity of esteem between mental and physical health, we are going to increase mental health service budgets not by £2bn, but £2.3bn a year.

For the first time ever, we will introduce waiting time targets for community mental health so that people get the treatment they need when they need it.

And we will expand services for young people to include people up to the age of 25. Something that never happened under the Labour government.

Mr Speaker, the Long Term Plan focuses on the most common causes of mortality, including cancer, heart disease, stroke and lung disease.

The health service will take a more active role in helping people to cut their risk factors: stopping smoking, losing weight and reducing alcohol intake.

The NHS will improve the quality and speed of diagnosis and improve treatment and recovery so we can help people to live well and manage their conditions.

And we will upgrade urgent care so people can get the right care more quickly.

All in all, Mr Speaker, the NHS Long Term Plan has been drawn up by the NHS: by over 2,500 doctors, clinicians, staff, and patients.

It will continue to be shaped and refined by staff and patients through an implementation plan framework in the spring, with events and activities across the country to help people understand what it means for them and their local NHS services.

The experts who wrote the plan say it will lead to 150,000 heart attacks, strokes and dementia cases prevented, 55,000 more people surviving cancer each year – in all, half a million lives saved over the next ten years. Funded by taxpayers, designed by doctors, delivered by this government.

It’s an important moment in the history of the NHS.

Our Long Term Plan will ensure the NHS continues to be there, free at the point of use, based on clinical need, not ability to pay, better resourced with more staff.

Newer technology with new priorities, fit for the future, so it is always there, in our hour of need.

And I am proud to commend this statement to the House.

 

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