NHS Long Term Plan sets right direction, but support is essential to fulfil ambitious plan

Today NHS England has published its Long Term Plan for the NHS, which provides a blueprint for healthcare in England over the next ten years. The plan’s aim is to create a modern health service through further integration, improving out-of-hospital care, boosting digital capabilities and a focus on prevention.

Graham Jackson - board meetingCommenting on the Long Term Plan, Dr Graham Jackson, co-chair of NHS Clinical Commissioners and Clinical Lead of Buckinghamshire ICS, said:

“Today’s NHS Long Term Plan rightly focuses on developing an integrated NHS that is sustainable and works efficiently and effectively for patients, with prevention and self-care at the core. This is something that CCGs have been working towards, with colleagues, for some time now and are ambitious to achieve as it is the right thing for our populations. We are pleased to see an emphasis on investment for primary, community and mental health services which comprise the bedrock of a sustainable out-of-hospital health system and it will be crucial that these commitments are followed through.

“The plan contains a clear direction of travel towards typically one CCG for each ICS, and to achieve that effectively and efficiently our members will now need as much support as possible from NHS England – including detail on their financial allocations as they strive to continue to do more for less, particularly in light of the recent announcements about the 20% reduction in running costs which increases the financial pressures that commissioners are already working with. Critically, as the commissioning sector evolves and integrates we have to ensure that the clinical decision making that has been embedded at the heart of the commissioning sector is retained and strengthened.

“Our members are already working with health and care colleagues at the local place and system levels, and these are starting to deliver better health outcomes for their populations. They have, though, told us that there are five factors that would both speed up and smooth the path to integration, including reforming the payment system; having a system-wide responsibility for health outcomes; clarity on accountability and governance structures; aligning the regulatory system and; revising procurement and competition rules. It was good to see some of these addressed in the Long Term Plan’s suggestions for legislative change, although we would caution against distracting from delivery by pursuing a wholesale rewrite of the Health and Social Care Act.

“The publication of the Long Term Plan must be the start of a serious set of collective actions to support local systems to change rather than a handover of national directions, and we look forward to working with NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care to support our members to deliver against the priority areas for patients and local populations.”

7 January 2019