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NHS Long Term Plan imagePublished on the 7th January 2019, a document entitled ‘The NHS Long Term Plan’ has set out the ways in which the Health Service is going to improve over the next 10 years.

Addressing the problems the NHS currently faces, the plan outlines how the organisation will work alongside local partners, patients, staff and the public to put its plan into action.

The NHS Long Term Plan was drafted by a variety of people, including frontline health and care staff, patient groups and other experts.

The long-term plan comes following the Budget announcement in October 2018, where Chancellor Philip Hammond outlined that the Government would increase the NHS’ budget by £20.5 billion each year by 2023-2034.

Prime Minister Theresa May commented: “The launch of the NHS Long Term Plan marks an historic step to secure its future and offers a vision for the service for the next ten years, with a focus on ensuring that every pound is spent in a way that will most benefit patients. This will help relieve pressure on the NHS while providing the basis to transform care with world-class treatments.

Carer support

One of the key points in the document highlights that carers will benefit from greater recognition and support.

The latest Census found that one-tenth of the adult population has an unpaid caring role, equating to approximately 5.5 million people in England – around 1.4 million of whom provide upwards of 50 hours care per week.

To improve how the NHS recognises and supports unpaid carers, the long-term plan says it will introduce best-practice Quality Markers for primary care that highlight best practice in carer identification and support.

Dementia support

As well as improving support for carers, the Long Term Plan also looks to improve the care the NHS provides to dementia patients, both in hospitals or at home.

The document states that one in six people aged 80 and above has dementia and that nearly three-quarters of people in care homes have dementia or severe memory problems. On top of this, there will be over one million people with dementia in the UK by 2025 and there are over 40,000 people in the UK under 65 living with dementia currently.

The Long Term plan emphasises that dementia research investment is set to double between 2015 and 2020, with £300 million of Government support.

Helping support people with dementia, the NHS intends to more actively focus on supporting people through its enhanced community multidisciplinary teams and the application of the NHS Comprehensive Model of Personal Care. It will also work closely with the voluntary sector, including supporting the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Connect programme.

Personal Health Budgets

The NHS also plans to accelerate the roll out of Personal Health Budgets (PHBs), which allow people to have greater choice and control over how their care is delivered.

The PHBs will include provision of bespoke wheelchairs and community-based packages of personal and domestic support. The NHS also intends to expand its offer in mental health services for people with a learning disability, people receiving social care support and people receiving specialist end of life care.

Personalised care

According to the Long Term Plan, the NHS will also look to support more people to manage their own health during the next five years. This will help people with diabetes, respiratory issues, maternity and parenting support, and online therapies for common mental health problems.

As part of its plans to increase the amount of personalised care people receive, the NHS Comprehensive Model of Personalised Care is now being implemented across a third of England. The NHS will roll out the Personalised Care model across the country, aiming to reach 2.5 million people by 2023/24.

Wearable monitoring tech

One of the areas the NHS intends to expand is the utilisation of wearable monitoring equipment. This technology allows users to wear the equipment at home and can help the NHS predict, detect and prevent events that could have otherwise led to a hospital admission.

Examples include a set of digital scales to monitor the weight of someone post-surgery, a location tracker to provide freedom with security for someone with dementia, and home testing equipment for someone taking blood thinning drugs.

Digitising NHS services

The Long Term Plan crucially highlights the necessity of digital technology to reduce pressure off NHS staff and to provide convenient ways for patients to access advice and care.

Plans include digital appointments and prescriptions, as well as an NHS App to provide advice, check symptoms and connect people with healthcare professionals – including through telephone and video consultations.

The NHS also says that it will continue to invest in its website so people can find helpful advice and information regarding their conditions. It also promises to continue supporting the development of apps and online resources to support good mental health and enable recovery.

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