PM promises to publish ‘sustainable long-term plan’ for NHS this year

Theresa May has this week promised to unveil a “sustainable long-term plan” for the NHS over the next year, including a new funding settlement for the health service.

Following Jeremy Hunt hinting at a raising income tax by 1p to support the NHS, May has also called for an end to “annual top ups of the NHS budget.”

Speaking to the Commons liaison committee, the prime minister said that the government needed to “get away from the annual approach to the NHS budget” that had led to trusts being forced to use long-term funding to plug gaps in their short-term funding.

“So this year and in advance of next year’s spending review I do want to come forward with a long term plan,” she commented.

“I want that to be done in conjunction with leaders of the NHS, with clinicians and health experts, and the government will provide a multi-year funding settlement in support of the plan, consistent with our fiscal rules and balanced approach, but ensuring the NHS can cope with the rising demand ahead of the spending review.”

NHS organisations were quick to praised the prime minister for this statement of intent. Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers explained: “We have stated repeatedly that we have reached a watershed moment for the NHS, which cannot and will not be able to deliver the standards of care that it is expected to provide with current resources.”

But Hopson also said it was crucial that May listened to the concerns of frontline trusts as well as NHS national bodies when coming up with a long-term plan.

“A key message she will hear is the importance of addressing current workforce shortages alongside funding requirements,” he continued. “Trust leaders say they need just as much help from the government in this area as well.”

Niall Dickson, CEO of NHS Confed also described the news as “the best Easter present for the health and social care system after a truly torrid winter.

“We have been calling for a settlement which is long-term, more generous and one that addresses health and social care together, rather than as individual entities,” he commented. “The prime minister has signalled an intent to tick all three boxes and we are delighted.”

Top image: PA Wire


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