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NHS long-term plan 'will save half a million lives over next 10 years'

The i logo The i 07/01/2019 Paul Gallagher
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State-of-the-art genetic testing and artificial intelligence will be among a raft of measures outlined on Monday to prevent “major killer conditions” as part of the government’s 10-year plan for the NHS.

Almost half a million more lives will be saved over the next 10 years as a result of the plan with investment in world-class, cutting-edge treatments including genomic tests for every child with cancer.

Measures outlined in the blueprint, officially being launched at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool by Theresa May and NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, will help prevent 150,000 heart attacks, strokes and dementia cases while more than three million people will benefit from new and improved stroke, respiratory and cardiac services over the next decade.

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A commitment to new technology in healthcare is at the heart of the plan. The NHS will be the first health service in the world to offer whole genome sequencing for children with cancer and young people who have a rare genetic disorder, in addition to adults suffering from certain rare conditions or specific cancers.

The new, individually tailored treatments will be introduced alongside cutting edge testing services that will mean three quarters of cancer patients are diagnosed early, when the condition is easier to treat, up from half at present, saving 55,000 lives a year.

Around 23,000 premature deaths and 50,000 hospital admissions will be prevented over the next decade by putting over 100,000 patients with heart problems through a healthy living and exercise programme every year, health officials said. Patients will also be offered digital GP consultations, for all those who want them, and a promise they will be able to access access health care "at the touch of a button".

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Mental health

Physical health commitments come alongside what officials are calling the biggest ever investment in mental health services, rising to at least £2.3bn a year by 2023/24. Around two million more people who suffer anxiety, depression or other problems will receive help over the next decade as a result of the extra investment, including new dads as well as mums, and 24 hour access to crisis care via the NHS 111 service.

Pledges in the plan include ensuring every hospital with a major A&E department has "same day emergency care" in place so that patients can be treated and discharged with the right package of support, without needing an overnight stay. There will also be a commitment to deliver more care to people in their own homes, freeing up space in hospitals for those who need it most.

The NHS long term plan is also the first time in the NHS’s 70 year history when there will be a new guarantee that investment in primary, community and mental health care will grow faster than the growing overall NHS budget.

Video: Does the NHS have enough resources to implement 10-year plan? (Sky News)


Mr Stevens said the plan addresses concerns over funding, staffing, increasing inequalities and pressures from a growing and ageing population.

"And there’s also been legitimate optimism – about the possibilities for continuing medical advance and better outcomes of care," he said. "This NHS Long Term Plan... keeps all that’s good about our health service and its place in our national life. It tackles head-on the pressures our staff face. And it sets a practical, costed, phased route map for the NHS’s priorities for care quality and outcomes improvement for the decade ahead.”

Transform services

On the eve of the launch, Mrs May said that the investment would help "transform" services for patients who would experience "world class treatment". She said the plan marks an "historic step" to secure the future of the health service "with a focus on ensuring that every pound is spent in a way that will most benefit patients".

Gallery: The fascinating history of the NHS (StarsInsider) 

Professor Carrie MacEwen, chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said the challenge now is to make sure the plan is properly implemented. "And in this regard we, that is everyone who works in the NHS and patients who use the service, must all play our part if we are to make it a success," she said.

Emma Greenwood, Cancer Research UK’s director of policy and public affairs said: “We’re pleased that commitments to transform cancer survival features strongly in this plan. The scale of the challenge is huge and this plan is a good starting point. Despite the real progress made over the last 20 years, the UK’s cancer survival still lags behind the best performing countries in the world and by 2035 one person every minute will be diagnosed with cancer.

"What we need now is a detailed plan to address the staffing shortages. Ultimately, without enough properly trained specialist staff to diagnose and treat those with cancer, progress will stall.”

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said that Mrs May was proposing “a 10-year plan to clear up a mess that she made”.

He said: “The Tories have spent nine years running down the NHS. They have failed to recruit and train the staff desperately needed, leaving our NHS struggling with chronic shortages of over 100,000 staff.”


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