The launch of the NHS 10 year plan on 7th January 2019 was a positive focus on health and wellbeing to start the New Year. The Plan sets out strategic steps to improve the health and wellbeing of the UK population and the health service.
Since the announcement last summer of the additional funding to the NHS of 3.4% per year over the next five years, the Plan has been developed with input from frontline health and care staff, professional bodies and patient groups.
With priorities for improving the health service and better outcomes of care for people, the Plan focuses on prevention and reducing the burden on hospitals to address some of the key issues facing the health service.
*The aims of the NHS is to become:
- More joined up and coordinated in its care – working towards a more holistic approach to care delivery, so that treatment is joined up, thereby breaking down barriers between care institutions, health and care teams, and funding streams.
- More proactive in the services it provides; and
- More differentiated in its support offer to individuals.
Priorities linked to social care
*Some of the key priorities to be achieved in the Plan that is dependent on social care include:
- increasing funding for primary and community care by at least £4.5 billion – this includes guaranteeing NHS support to people living in care homes,
- bringing together different professionals to coordinate care better,
- helping more people to live independently at home for longer,
- developing more rapid community response teams to prevent unnecessary hospital stays, and speed up discharges home,
- upgrading NHS staff support to people living in care homes,
- improving the recognition of carers and support they receive,
- making further progress on care for people with dementia, and
- giving more people more say about the care they receive and where they receive it, particularly towards the end of their lives.
There will also be an increased focus on technology in the provision and delivery of better health and care. Wearable monitoring equipment and digital technology will be used to provide convenient ways for people to access advice and care, as well as enable healthcare staff to deliver better outcomes for people.
Doing things differently
The Plan acknowledges that in order to achieve these ambitious aims, the NHS will need to:
- Do things differently, encourage more collaboration between professionals in order to achieve a fully integrated model of health and care.
- The focus on prevention will require a proactive approach that enables people to support their own health and wellbeing.
- Significantly increase the workforce with suitably trained and qualified professionals to deliver the aims of the Plan. An ambitious aim, but one worth pursuing if the challenges within the workforce are to be addressed.
- Make better use of data and digital technology whilst safeguarding patient information and access.
So overall, although the NHS Plan is welcomed news to many within the health and care sector, the delay to the long awaited government green paper on social care is disappointing. The link between health and social care should not be overlooked, as many of the inherent issues in the health and social care sectors are interlinked.
To meet the ambitions of the NHS 10 year plan, collaboration between health and social care is paramount, to help us move towards a more fully integrated health and social care system.
Whilst reading the NHS Plan I was particularly drawn to the section titled engaging people, hoping to see more detailed information of the steps the NHS would take to engage with the wider public and indeed professionals on the implementation of the Plan. I was somewhat disappointed that it lacked any real detail on this point, apart from ongoing consultation with stakeholders, as important as that is.
As a marketing and communications professional, I believe that there are opportunities within the Plan that if implemented successfully will deliver positive outcomes for people. However, the detail on how social care, the challenges of housing and funding for the sector must also be addressed.
By adopting a preventative model to the health service, a significant behavioural change approach will need to be adopted throughout the system. Communications will become ever more important between health and social care professionals and the wider public to bring the collaboration needed to transform the system. The implementation of the Plan will require an attitudinal and behavioural shift in the way things currently operate, and one that requires careful thought, resources and expertise.
*Source: NHS Long Term Plan