NHS 10-year plan launched in bid to save 500,000 lives

  • Video report by ITV News Health Correspondent Emily Morgan

Up to 500,000 lives could be saved under plans for the NHS in England over the next decade, health chiefs claim.

The NHS long-term plan involves greater use of high-tech treatments and diagnostic testing and could prevent 150,000 heart attacks, strokes and dementia cases.

Announcing the details in Liverpool on Monday, Theresa May said the plan was "overall" rather than specific, including improvements to social care.

"This plan is an overall plan for the NHS over the next 10 years," she said.

"It is about prevention. It's also about early diagnosis and better detection, treatment and recovery so we can ensure better outcomes.

"It's about making sure that every stage in life, the NHS is delivering that world-class care."

Up to 500,000 lives could be saved, it is thought, in the next decade. Credit: PA

The prime minister announced that over the next five years the NHS budget would increase by £20.5 billion in real terms.

Mrs May said the combination of the 10-year-old plan and increased funding would "provide the certainty and long-term direction needed" to transform patient care as well as "secure the future" of the health service.

"Not everything can be done at once, so as always there will be some careful choices to make," Mrs May said.

"But delivered effectively our plan for the NHS will secure our health service for generations to come."

What has been announced in the plan?

  • The NHS will become the first health service in the world to offer whole genome sequencing for children with cancer to help target treatment There will be genetic testing for about 30,000 people with dangerously high inherited cholesterol.

  • Pilot schemes will see "smart" inhalers given to respiratory patients to Cutting-edge scans and the potential use of artificial intelligence to

  • Patients will be able to access health care at the touch of the button through a "digital front door" to the NHS.

Around 150,000 hearts, strokes and dementia cases 'could be prevented'. Credit: PA

NHS England chief Simon Stevens said the plan "tackles head on" the pressures faced by health staff, including an aging population.

More than three million people will benefit from improved stroke, respiratory and cardiac services over the next decade.

About 23,000 premature deaths could be prevented by putting 100,000 people with heart complaints through a healthy living and exercise programme every year.

And the plans aim to ensure three-quarters of cancers are diagnosed early, when they can be treated more successfully, up from half at present.

  • In order to combat its "bed-blocking" problem, South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust has teamed up with a local care provider to set up a "halfway house" where the elderly and vulnerable - who are able to be discharged from hospital but not well enough to be at home - can stay.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: "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."

Under the plan there will be a £4.5 billion boost for primary and community care, and investment in mental health services will rise to at least £2.3 billion a year by 2023/24.

About two million more people who suffer anxiety, depression or other problems will receive help over the next decade.

Mr Stevens told ITV News the plan had been "shaped by patient groups and by front-line nurses and doctors".

"We have got to keep all that is good about the health service right now," he said.

"But we've got to recognise that staff are under enormous pressure, and we need to respond to that.

"At the same time, we've got to take explicit benefit of the huge gains that we are going to see on cancer, heart disease and stroke care and mental health services over the next decade.

"If we do that we should be able to save up to half a million lives."

What has the reaction been?

The plan was welcomed by campaigners, but experts warned that implementing it would be difficult.

Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said "the Tories have spent nine years running down the NHS, imposing the biggest cash squeeze in its history" and now "need 10 years to clear up the mess they have made".

Kay Boycott, chief executive of Asthma UK, said smart inhalers were "game-changing devices" that "track how often and well people are taking their asthma medication so that those most at risk of asthma attacks can be identified and helped before they need hospital treatment".

Stroke Association chief executive Juliet Bouverie said the plan makes tackling stroke a “national priority”, adding: "We know this plan can and will ensure that more lives are saved and more people spared from serious disability."

But Nigel Edwards from health think tank the Nuffield Trust said that while the plan’s aims were right "there are several big pitfalls ahead", with the extra funding still below what experts thought was needed and a lack of key staff presenting "the biggest obstacle of all".

The NHS long-term plan involves greater use of high-tech treatments and diagnostic testing. Credit: PA

NHS Confederation chief executive Niall Dickson said: "We very much welcome the increased funding for the NHS and the vision to strengthen and improve services.

"But the plan cannot escape the harsh reality that the NHS will still face tough decisions on what it can and cannot do."

Local Government Association spokesman Ian Hudspeth said the plan’s goals could only be fully realised if councils were properly funded to deliver social care and public health services.

"To help the NHS make its extra funding go further and alleviate the pressures on the health service, it is essential that the Government plugs the £3.6 billion funding gap facing adult social care by 2025 and reverses the £600 million in reductions to councils’ public health grants," he said.