Sajid Javid sets out his vision for the NHS but what are his plans for the workforce under pressure?

Credit: PA

Sajid Javid finally told us how he wants to reform the NHS today. Change is essential he said, since the health budget is "now bigger than the GDP of Greece". The Health Secretary, like many before him, laid out how it has to change in order to ensure patients get the best possible care, and quickly.

Reform will focus on three things: prevention, personalisation and performance. He wants to empower people to take control of their own health, ensure family members look after themselves and lead healthier lives.

Personalised care will, he says, help bring down the backlog. Patients will have more control over where they are seen, they will be able to choose where to have their operation if another hospital can see them sooner and the NHS will foot the bill for travel and accommodation costs, even if it's at a private hospital.

Driving up performance in all care is also an ambition, as well as a ten year cancer plan set to be published later in the year.

"Business as usual isn't going to cut it...we have to start doing things in a different way"

A cynic might point out that we've heard numerous reform plans before and there is little in this that is new or different.

I asked the Health Secretary just that. He conceded that no, patient choice isn't new, it has been done before but it hasn't worked.

I wonder what is different this time and whether he will match what Tony Blair did all those years ago with the funding he also put into the service.

Mr Javid's answer was that funding is increasing over the next few years and so it is, but not at the level seen under Labour so one might question whether Mr Javid will have the same success as Labour at getting the waiting lists down.

"Of course we need more people in the NHS" - Javid concedes that workforce numbers in the NHS need to increase

One thing missing from the speech was staffing. How can he expect the health service to deliver any of this without a plan to increase the workforce?

It will come, Mr Javid told us, in the workforce plan later in the year. But the over-riding response from the medical community has been "we need that workforce plan now".

The Health Secretary conceded in my interview that yes, the NHS does need more staff and he is doing everything he can to resolve it.

They have 11,000 more nurses and 5,000 more doctors working in the NHS in the last 12 months. But there are 110,000 vacancies. Again he conceded that is the case but it takes time and there are more nurses and doctors in training here than ever before. Will these reforms actually reduce the backlog and ensure money is spent more efficiently?

That is the challenge facing the Secretary of State and it will take years to make a proper assessment.

Health watchers are pleased prevention is at the forefront of this, indeed patient choice is also commendable, but the one thing everyone really wants and needs is still missing: staff.