NHS Long Term Plan and waiting times

A number of constituents have contacted me about the NHS Long Term Plan, which was recently announced by the Prime Minister, and waiting times.

As you are aware, the Plan provides the NHS with an additional £20.5 billion by 2023/24.  This is the largest, longest funding settlement in the history of the NHS, helping to secure its long term future. I warmly welcome it and hope you agree that it demonstrates the Government's commitment to properly funding our NHS and public services.

The Government asked the NHS to draw up the Plan, focusing on cutting waste and ensuring every penny is well spent. At its heart is the notion that prevention is better than cure, marking a clear shift towards our health service promoting good health not just curing illness, while helping to place it on a sustainable footing for the long term. That's why the biggest uplift in spending will be an extra £4.5 billion for primary medical and community health services. On top of this, the Long Term Plan commits to improving detection, with more targeted screening and Rapid Access Diagnostic Centres, so that in 10 years' time these measures will help achieve 55,000 more people surviving cancer each year, and 100,000 heart attacks, strokes and dementia cases being prevented.

Not only is the Government increasing NHS investment by over £20 billion in real terms over the coming five years, it is making progress on reforms which will reduce waiting times and alleviate pressures on the NHS. Through the Long Term Plan, the local NHS is being given enough money to grow the amount of planned surgery year-on-year, to cut long waits, and reduce the waiting list. The ability of patients to choose where they have their treatment remains a powerful tool for delivering improved waiting times and patient experiences of care. The NHS will continue to provide patients with a wide choice of options for quick elective care, including making use of available Independent Sector capacity. These steps come alongside measures to offer patients the choice of quick telephone or online consultations, saving time waiting and travelling.

In addition, the Government’s investment of £3.6 billion in the Better Care Fund, the NHS's continuing implementation of its own plan for the future (the Five Year Forward View),  and the proper integration of health and social care over the next three years will be of huge benefit to the NHS and patients alike. Excellent progress is being made - compared to five years ago, nearly half a million more people are treated within 18 weeks of referral.

I am proud of the Government's recent record on the NHS - despite difficult financial circumstances, NHS investment has increased every year since 2010 and I believe this new investment will help to secure the NHS for the future.