The NHS is already mainly preoccupied with the immediate pressures which include the increasing sick patient numbers that the winter months bring. It becomes difficult for the senior managers to give thoughts to the following month, and even less thought to the next 5 years or more. Yet the reality is that they have to.
The long-term plans for the NHS in England, which was due for release close to the end of 2018, was delayed due to the government’s focus and preoccupation with Brexit. The report is expected to be published sometime in January 2020.
Here, Ideal Health Consultants looks at plans that could indicate what the tone will be for the NHS in England over the next 10 years.
The time-frame of having to wonder and wait has been extremely frustrating for both managers and staff, which also includes the campaign groups and health charities, which have been promoting themselves for prime positions in this plan.
Postponement of the Green Paper or consultation document involving social care across England had given the fuel to further criticism across a few quarters when it comes to the priorities of the government.
The genesis associated with this plan was taken from an announcement in June 2018 by the prime minister, about the implementation of a new funding package for the NHS, which includes an additional £20.5bn annually by 2023.
In real-terms, this would amount to an increase of 3.4% every year, which is significantly more than what was seen in annual funding-growth over the last few years. In return, Theresa May called on the NHS leaders to show how they planned to use this money as well as where savings could be made possible, which is why a long-term plan became necessary.
The expectations were extremely high, with the health lobbyists sending in long shopping lists. Simon Stevens, the chief executive of the NHS in England, along with his team of managers narrowed down their priorities. They were informed by the ministers to have these priorities ready to implement in the early part of December.
This was followed by summits, and then the confidence vote, along with debating over Brexit backstops, whereby the NHS plan returned to the “pending” tray.
This plan was not yet signed off fully before Christmas. Stories started to emerge about last-minute tensions between the NHS along with other parts of the Whitehall.
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The leaders of the NHS know that a funding increase of 3.4% every year, which might be slightly higher than the last few years, happen to be somewhat in line with long-run averages over the last few decades.
They also suspect that an increase in patient demand is going to contribute to a large portion of this money every year, which leaves very little left over for any new initiatives.
Emergency admissions to the different hospitals across England were up by 6% for the year ending in November 2018.
Yet the ministers wanted a few new projects that they could showcase, and it is understood that the latest plan contains commitments that are new for cancer care along with treating heart diseases.
On their part, the NHS leaders are eager to highlight the local schemes whereby health services are closely working with the social-care providers, which is called integrated care. This has given way to a pledge in order to extend this model across England.
Emergency Admissions have Increased
This plan is viewed as one of the potential big moments for community and GP care with commitments to services offered out-of-hospital, yet most of this is relying on the precise allocation of these funds.
Downing Street and the Treasury have requested detailed plans on the milestones which will be achieved every year in order for them to grant funding increases.
The NHS leaders show reluctance to being held accountable to these firm pledges, in association with the future demands of patients, which is very difficult to predict.
The sources from Whitehall have denied the possibility of disagreements. Instead, they have said that Downing Street is eager to finalise the details since most of their attention has been on different matters over November and most of December.
There are a few major decisions that need to be concluded in 2019 about the way social care and the NHS will cope with caring for the needs of the more ill and older patients.
An increase in care out-of-hospitals is the goal everyone is hoping for, yet finding the funds to match up to the needs of patients continues to get harder, which has left devolved administrations and the health and political leaders at Westminster with many things to contemplate on for the upcoming year.