NHS long term plan falls short of what is needed, warns experts

Published today, the NHS Long Term plan sets out the health services roadmap for the next ten years. 

Matt Bodell
7 January 2019
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Experts claims the NHS Long Term plan falls short, failing to address key issues such as staffing and chronic underfunding.

The Nuffield Trust, an independent health think tank, has warned that although the NHS Long Term plan is a step in the right direction is still falls short of what is needed.


Published today, the NHS Long Term plan sets out the health services roadmap for the next ten years. NHS England claims the plans will help save up to half a million lives.

The plans include; offering digital GP consultations, investment in disease prevention, improvements to neonatal and maternity care and the development of integrated support services to help prevent hospital admissions.

Critics warn the plan is disproportionatly aimed at primary care services.

Nigel Edwards, Chief Executive of the Nuffield Trust, said: “The goals of this plan look right – carrying on with joining up care and improving services for older people, while pushing vital issues like heart attack survival and children’s health up the agenda. These are the most important issues for patients, and the level of ambition is good. What worries me is how difficult it will be to roll out such wide ranging changes. There are several big pitfalls ahead.


‘Below the historic average’.

“The extra funding will actually be below the historic average and what experts thought was needed. It’s enough to move forwards, but with little room for manoeuvre. If we face a no deal Brexit, the extra costs and tasks required would eat up the first instalments, stopping progress dead in its tracks. And if social care and public health continue to be starved of funding, a stretched NHS will have even less to spare.

“In the NHS it is always difficult to take changes from the whiteboard to the ward. Success depends on extra effort and initiative from staff. But relations are frayed by shortages and increasing burnout, so some real leadership will be needed. Some ideas in this plan seem to assume one size fits all. But it often does not in the NHS because the distribution of people and services varies so much across England.”

Calculations from the Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund and Health Foundation predict a staffing shortfall of 250,000 by 2030 – making delivering even current services near impossible.

Mr Edwards adds; “the biggest levers to resolve the workforce crisis are out of NHS England’s hands. Only bold policies on training, immigration and Brexit can deliver enough nurses, GPs and therapists for the next few years. The system of workforce planning has failed us, and needs deep reform.”


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