The Long Term Plan – what does it mean for primary care?

In the first in a series of short blogs on the NHS Long Term Plan, I start by asking what it means for primary care…

When the NHS Long Term plan was published someone commented to me it was ‘a good read’. And having managed to read through all 136 pages I agreed. But whilst we all continue to digest and dissect the plan, as the media continues to critique it and MPs use it as their own soundboard, there is a slightly pressing issue. The delivery.

It clearly took a lot or resource and engagement to pull it together, but the hard work really starts now.

Let’s start with the real positive as I don’t want to lose sight about why the NHS Long Term Plan has been developed. It aims to save almost half a million more lives with practical action on major killer conditions and investment in world class, cutting edge treatments. Local health services are being allocated £570 billion to fund NHS services and implement the new Long Term Plan.

It also aims to make real impact in terms of primary care provision, with some of the headlines from the plan including:

  • A new guarantee that investment in primary, community and mental health care will grow faster than the growing overall NHS budget. This will fund a £4.5 billion new service model for the 21st century across England, where health bodies come together to provide better, joined up care in partnership with local government.
  • Making the NHS fit for the future will use the latest technology, such as digital GP consultations for all those who want them, coupled with early detection and a renewed focus on prevention to stop an estimated 85,000 premature deaths each year.

You can read the full report here and the summary report here.

Doing things differently

The NHS has said that to ensure that it can achieve the ambitious improvements it wants to see for patients over the next decade, the long term plan also sets out how the current challenges, such as staff shortages and growing demand for services, can be overcome. One of the key ways it believes this will be achieved is by ‘doing things differently’. Oh, how something so complex and transformational can be summarised into three such simple words. But I digress…

In ‘doing things differently’ the aim is to give people more control over their own health and the care they receive. To achieve this there is real focus on encouraging more collaboration between GPs, their teams and community services, as ‘primary care networks’ to:

  • Increase the services they can provide jointly
  • Increase the focus on NHS organisations working with their local partners, as ‘Integrated Care Systems’
  • Plan and deliver services which meet the needs of their communities.

CCGs now have to take action to get real networks in place. This starts with practical level engagement and needs a good structure to move forward. And forging at scale entities needs to be efficient and cost effective.

In my next blog I talk more about at scale entities and how they can support CCGs, GPs and GP federations to ‘do things differently’ and more importantly, collaboratively.