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What does the NHS Long Term Plan mean for you?


The new 10-year plan for the health service in England was published on 7 January, after being delayed since the end of last year. The 136-page blueprint sets out how a £20.5bn annual budget increase will be spent.

Key areas of focus included in the NHS Long Term Plan include improving outcomes for major diseases, boosting access to mental health services, ensuring all children get the best start in life by continuing to improve maternity care, supporting primary medical and community health services, supporting older people through more personalised care and making digital health services a mainstream part of the NHS. On this page, we summarise the headline parts of the plan affecting nurses. Visit the Nursing Times website for comprehensive coverage and response.


NHS to fund 5,000 extra nurse placements to expand workforce

A 25% rise in placement spaces – an extra 5,000 – is to be funded as part of a drive to help fill nursing undergraduate spots. The plan also revealed a five-year NHS job guarantee after nursing and midwifery students qualify and further strategies for improving vacancy rates among the workforce, including the potential introduction of an “online nursing degree”.


Overseas nurses to be focus of short-term NHS recruitment drive

NHS leaders have promised a short-term “step change” in the recruitment of international nurses in order to try and bridge domestic shortfalls. The plan expected an increase of “several thousand” nurses supplied each year from other countries over the next five years, though doing so will “require central support” for trusts.


Nursing staff to get more training in nutrition to target obesity

Efforts to boost health professionals’ knowledge of nutrition and ensure they feel confident talking to patients about sensitive topics like weight are among steps designed to tackle the UK’s obesity crisis. The plan sets down various courses of action designed to tackle obesity, including enhanced training on nutrition and weight management for doctors and other frontline clinicians.


NHS may take back control of public health nurses from councils

Responsibility for commissioning key public health services including health visiting, school nursing and sexual health could revert to the NHS under long-term plans for the health service’s future. The government has pledged to look again at commissioning arrangements which critics claim are simply “not working” at the moment.


NHS to entice newly qualified nurses into primary care with fellowships

Fresh incentives will be offered to newly qualified nurses to encourage them to choose primary care as a “first destination role”. Nurses new to the register will be asked to take up a career in primary care in exchange for a two-year fellowship.


NHS leaders promise boost for urgent care to ease A&E pressure

Comprehensive same-day care for the seriously ill and walking wounded will soon be available at most major accident and emergency departments, under moves designed to ease pressure on England’s struggling hospitals. The reforms should mean patients in need of urgent treatment spend just hours in hospital, rather than being admitted overnight.


NHS staff promised they ‘will have the digital tools they need’

NHS England has pledged that health professionals will receive the digital tools they need in a bid to make digitally-enabled care “mainstream” across the country, especially those working in community settings. NHS leaders have claimed that over the next three years they want all staff working in the community to have access to mobile digital services.


Rapid response teams part of drive to shift care into community

Community-based rapid response teams will be expected to swing into action within two hours to prevent vulnerable patients being taken to hospital as part of efforts to provide more care closer to home and help reduce unnecessary admissions. The teams, working across primary care and local hospitals, will also provide recovery support to help people back on their feet after a health crisis.


Further investment and support for mental health services

The long-term plan has vowed to continue further investment and support in mental health services. It announced strategies including a 24/7 community-based mental health crisis response, mental health transport services and liaison support in emergency departments. Mental health will receive a growing share of the NHS budget – with at least an extra £2.3bn a year by 2023-24.


NHS plan pledges to support BAME staff and diversity at top

NHS leaders have pledged that “respect, equality and diversity” will be at the heart of a major new workforce plan for the health service in England, which is set to be published later this year. They said the workforce implementation plan, due later in 2019, will have black, Asian and minority ethnic staff as an important part of it.


Homeless mental health services to get £30m cash injection

NHS England have promised to invest up to £30m extra on meeting the needs of rough sleepers. It said it will invest into rough sleepers to ensure that the parts of the country that are most affected by rough sleeping with have better access to specialist homelessness mental health support.


Neonatal nurse boost revealed as part of maternity shake-up

More neonatal nurses will be brought into the NHS under a new maternity shake-up. NHS leaders have also pledged to roll out care bundles across every maternity unit in England in 2019, as part of its goal to reduce stillbirths, maternal and neonatal mortality and serious brain injuries by 50%.


NHS England sets out funding boost for children’s hospices

National funding for children’s hospices is to rise by as much as £25m a year. However, the total annual increase would be dependent on local NHS commissioning bodies agreeing to match the rise in funding on offer from NHS England.


‘Comprehensive’ NHS workforce plan promised later in year

A “comprehensive” NHS workforce implementation plan will be published later this year, NHS England has confirmed in its new long-term plan. While the plan includes a chapter on staffing challenges and support, it said a further document specifically focusing on the NHS workforce would be published later during 2019.


NHS long-term plan ‘will help problem drinkers and smokers’

Problem drinkers and smokers who end up in hospital will be helped by dedicated new services. As part of new health service prevention measures, people who are alcohol dependent will be helped by new “alcohol care teams”. In addition, more than half a million patients who smoke will be “helped to stop” in a new drive that will see all smokers admitted to hospital encouraged to quit.


Readers' comments (2)

  • For me, the Long Term Plan means more of the same vacillation by the heirarchy, underfunding of services (called "efficiency savings") and the same low pay. Nothing will get any better.

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  • Some key issues have not been addressed, we will continue to struggle,

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