As the NHS approaches its 70th birthday, I welcome the Prime Minister’s historic funding announcement of an additional £20.5 billion in real terms by 2023/24. This will benefit services up and down the country and support the NHS to make the right decisions for the long-term, setting it on a sustainable path to continue delivering world class care.
In return for this investment, the Government will ask NHS leaders to produce a new ten-year plan, led by clinicians and professionals, and supported by local health and care systems across the country. The plan will set out a long-term vision for the health service and ensure every penny is well spent, tackling waste, reducing bureaucracy and eliminating unacceptable variation, with savings invested back into patient care. It must also make better use of capital investment to modernise buildings and invest in technology to drive productivity.
For my constituency, served principally by Addenbrookes, Lister, Bedford and the Luton and Dunstable, it should enable them to deliver their longer term planning with greater certainty. For primary care, I hope it will provide relief and support for hard pressed front line services, such as GPs, Pharmacy and other vital work.
The Government will set the NHS 5 financial tests to show how the NHS will do its part to put the service onto a more sustainable footing and will be a key part of the long-term plan. These are:
- improving productivity and efficiency
- eliminating provider deficits
- reducing unwarranted variation in the system so people get the consistently high standards of care wherever they live
- getting much better at managing demand effectively
- making better use of capital investment
Alongside the ten-year plan the Government will also publish a long-term workforce plan which will apply to new and existing staff as there can be no transformation without the right number of staff, in the right settings and with the right skills.
As the NHS develops its ten-year plan, the Government will consider any proposals from the NHS on where legislation or current regulation might be creating barriers. Where action is required, the Government will look to build the broadest possible consensus in Parliament – creating an environment in which the NHS can get on with delivering the long-term plan.
Some of the extra funding will come from money no longer spent on our annual membership subscription to the European Union, and taxpayers will also be asked to contribute a bit more for the NHS in a fair and balanced way. The Government will listen to views about how to do this and the Chancellor will set out the detail in due course.
This long-term plan will ensure that the NHS is fit to support us for the next 70 years and beyond. It will be led by professionals, with input from the public and patients, and sets out a sustainable and efficient vision for our health service.