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NHS Long Term Plan applauded, but there are caveats

Nick Ville

“We all support the vision of the NHS Long Term Plan but the ambitions of the plan will in part rest or fall on whether local health and care organisations are given the freedoms they need to work together to provide the best services to patients.” Contributor Nick Ville, Director of membership and policy – NHS Confederation. 

“We are pleased to see that NHS England/Improvement have endorsed this approach and they now need to create the right environment both nationally and regionally that supports local leaders to make these vital changes. The reality is that local organisations and staff know their communities best and are the ones who should have the freedom to shape services around local need. 

“All of this should help us achieve the vision of joined-up care closer to people’s homes, with a focus on prevention and health inequalities. However, we need to be careful about the balance between what national bodies regard as ‘must-dos’ and handing autonomy to local leaders to decide priorities.

“Finally, we must acknowledge that while we have the right vision and more detail today about this will be achieved, there are still some fundamental unresolved issues that are likely to stand in the way of the NHS making progress. At the top of the list is uncertainty about capital spending, training and education budgets, public health and social care. 

Resolving the staffing crisis in particular will be vital – if we don’t have the right staff in place then all bets are off. These issues must be resolved at the time of the next spending review and need to be a priority for the incoming Prime Minister. Failure to do so will put the NHS plan in jeopardy.” 

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