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Hunt: 'NHS must set out 10-year plan'

GPs and managers welcome £20bn-a-year boost but want more help for social care

Mark Gould

Monday, 18 June 2018

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has given the NHS six months to come up with strategic 10-year plan for health reform which will include details of how it is to spend the extra £20bn-a-year announced by prime minister Theresa May on Sunday.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Hunt was asked to explain where the extra cash would come from following Mrs May's assertion that spending rise, announced in the run up to NHS 70th birthday celebrations, amounted to a "Brexit dividend".

Mr Hunt said some of the new cash would come from taxation, but exact details would be set out in the in the budget. "The reason why we are not spelling it out now is because we want to give the NHS six months to come up with a really good 10-year plan.

"When we have that plan in November, we will say, 'This is a great plan, we accept that it is going to lead to improvements in cancer care and mental health and so on',” he said.

Mrs May made the announcement of £384m extra a week, in real terms, for the NHS by 2023, as the NHS gears up for its 70th anniversary next month.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the announcement recognises the exceptional work that the NHS has done over the last 70 years, "and is welcome confirmation that the Government is committed to continuing this".

Professor Stokes-Lampard said the 3.4% pledge represents a significant amount of money and "this is certainly encouraging" but falls short of the 4% rise claimed as necessary by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and supported by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges.

"It is essential that as more details of her long-term plan are announced, general practice is recognised for the vital role it plays in delivering safe, effective patient care in the community, and keeping the entire NHS sustainable."

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said the 3.4% rise represents "a significant improvement compared to recent years and both the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary deserve credit for securing a longer-term settlement".

But Mr Dickson said that in spite of this welcome extra investment the NHS faces hard choices "and we need an honest debate about what the NHS can and cannot do".

"One danger is that it simply goes to prop up the existing system, which will certainly not be able to cope - even with this injection. Instead there must be a dedicated transformation fund to drive new ways of delivering care."

He was also concerned about the fate of social care. "The government says it will make sure the NHS does not come under more pressure as a result of social care pressures - that must mean major public investment in social care - if it is serious about this, the government needs to put its money where its mouth is."

Paul Farmer the chief executive of mental health charity Mind, welcomed the commitment that extra funds will go towards mental health services. "We look forward to seeing plans for how the money will be spent, as mental health services need their fair share of this investment. After decades of under-funding, mental health services are under enormous strain.

"The Institute for Fiscal Studies recently estimated that if the ambition were to provide mental health services to two thirds of those who need them, spend would need to more than double over the next 15 years to £27bn. This is the scale of the challenge facing the NHS. The current five-year plan for mental health is the minimum needed to prevent catastrophic failure; building services that are fit for purpose and will carry us into the future will take sustained and significant investment over many years.”

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