Responding to the publication of the NHS Long Term Plan, Richard Murray, Chief Executive at The King’s Fund said: ‘This is an ambitious plan that includes a number of commitments which – if delivered – will improve the lives of many people. NHS leaders should be applauded for focusing on improving services outside hospitals and moving towards more joined-up, preventative and personalised care for patients.
‘While NHS leaders have done what was asked of them within the constraints of the funding settlement provided by the government, some significant pieces of the jigsaw are still missing. A number of decisions – notably on hospital waiting times – have been postponed, indicating that trade-offs and difficult choices lie ahead.
‘Whether the plan can be delivered relies critically on tackling workforce shortages. While the plan recognises this, commitments to increase international recruitment depend on decisions about immigration policy and we will need to wait for solutions until a new workforce plan is published later this year.
‘The NHS and social care are two sides of the same coin, yet publication of the social care green paper has been delayed yet again. And while commitments for the NHS to do more promote public health are welcome, cuts to local government funding for public health services underline the need for a more consistent approach across government to the population’s health.
‘We strongly support the ambition to establish integrated care systems in every part of the country by 2021. The plan sends a welcome signal that NHS organisations need to work with local authorities and other partners to deliver improvements in the health of local populations.
‘In short, while today’s plan is a significant step forward, a number of questions remain unanswered. There should be no illusions about the scale of the challenge ahead.’