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King's Fund: The NHS 10-year plan: how should the extra funding be spent?

Prof Sir Chris Ham and Richard Murray writing for The King's Fund 12 July 2018: The government has announced increases in NHS funding over five years, beginning in 2019/20, and has asked the NHS to come up with a 10-year plan for how this funding will be used. After eight years of austerity, growing financial and service pressures within the NHS and the damaging and distracting changes brought about by the Health and Social Care Act 2012, there is now an opportunity to tackle the issues that matter most to patients and communities and to improve health and care.

In our view, the centrepiece of the new plan should be a commitment to bring about measurable improvements in population health and to reduce health inequalities. Health outcomes in the UK are not as good as those in many comparable countries despite recent progress in some areas such as cancer survival rates (Dayan et al 2018). Action is required across government as well as in the NHS in order to give greater priority to prevention and to tackle the wider determinants of health and wellbeing. Goals for improving health should be set following widespread consultation with the public and stakeholders.

Improving health and reducing health inequalities depends on making further progress in integrating health and social care, building on the development of new care models, sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) and integrated care systems (ICSs). An immediate priority is to communicate more effectively about why integrated care matters and about the benefits it will bring to people and communities. Some of the additional funding that has been announced should be earmarked to support the further development of integrated care with a focus on the needs of older people with frailty, people with complex needs and children.

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