NHS 10-year plan: up to 500,000 lives targeted to be saved with prevention and early detection schemes

A commitment to save as many as 500,000 more lives over the next decade through detection and early prevention was one of the headlines of the long-awaited NHS 10-year plan announced by prime minister Theresa May today.

Described as the “blueprint to make the NHS fit for future,” the long-term plan sets out how the NHS will spend its £20.5bn budget settlement, with GPs, mental health, and community care getting the biggest funding increases—and a heavy emphasis placed on targeting and detecting major diseases earlier.

Hospitals will receive a smaller cut of the budget, with NHS bosses aiming to curb reliance on hospitals and instead renew focus on prevention and out-of-hospital care.

Matt Hancock commented: “The NHS long term plan, backed by a historic commitment of an extra £20.5 billion a year from taxpayers, marks an important moment not just for the health service but for the lives of millions of patients and hardworking NHS staff across the country.

“Whether it’s treating ever more people in their communities, using the latest technology to tackle preventable diseases, or giving every baby the very best start in life, this government has given the NHS the multi-billion-pound investment needed to nurture and safeguard our nation’s health service for generations to come.”

Part of the £20.5bn plan will be to strengthen prevention and health inequalities, with funding for specific new evidence-based NHS prevention programmes including cutting smoking, reducing obesity, limiting alcohol-related A&E admissions and lowering air pollution.

This is the latest in recent government announcements looking to invest in early disease detection technology: last month a £1.3bn fund from the government and the industry was announced in a bid to drive early disease detection technology for the Life Sciences Sector Deal.

As a condition of receiving the funding, all major national programmes and every local area across England will be required to set out specific measurable goals and mechanisms.

Doctors will also be encouraged to train as generalists rather than specialists in a bid to move away from the dominance of what the plan describes as “highly specialised” medicine and instead better provide care to patients suffering from multiple conditions.

Responding the long-term plan, Niall Dickson of NHS Confederation said: “This plan heralds an end of austerity for the NHS and as such, marks the dawn of a new era – one in which we will need to transform the way services are delivered to patients and the public.”

He welcomed the increased funding, but cautioned that the plan “cannot escape the harsh reality” of the tough decisions ahead, said the plan must tackle the NHS workforce and warned that the plan must be careful in overpromising.

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