Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care delivered a speech at Policy exchange last year on 18 December 2019.
Hancock visited many hospitals over the previous 6 weeks and spoke to nurses, doctors, porters, paramedics and patients across England to learn about how the NHS can improve and grow. Two main things he learnt are that the country wants Brexit, and wants the government to invest in the NHS.
Patients as well as NHS workers are desperate for improvements in technology and also need the pressure on the NHS to be relieved. Hancock wants an NHS where everyone is supported and empowered by 2030.
He met many dedicated NHS staff during his visits that are committed to giving their best, but there are improvements that are needed to bring out the potential of every single individual. There are many priorities that need to be put in place in order to make the NHS better for both staff and patients.
There are four main priorities Hancock wants to focus on to ensure a bright future for the NHS in years to come, but they need to be implemented now. They will affect every single aspect of the health and care system.
The four main priorities are infrastructure, prevention, people and technology.
As part of its dedication to the NHS Long Term Plan, the government will commit to an extra £33.9 billion to infrastructure every year within the next 5 years, 40 new hospitals will be built within the next 10 years, 50,000 new nurses will be trained and employed, 6000 more GPs, 6,000 more primary care professionals and 50 million more GP appointments.
Infrastructure though great in some places, is in desperate need of an upgrade in others. 40 new hospitals will be built under the Health Infrastructure Plan, and the backlog in maintenance as well as integrating care including primary and secondary care will be addressed.
The NHS will be improved brick by brick with well-designed and modern wards, better facilities to speed up recovery, cut waiting times, make sure patients get the right treatment and make life easier for NHS staff.
Prevention is better than a cure so prevention will be at the centre of everything the NHS does. Primary and maternity care will be massively invested in as these are the most important factors when preventing future ill-health.
50 million extra appointments will be delivered within the next 5 years by harnessing the power of technology, expanding the workforce and supporting GPs.
Pharmacies have so much potential so the government is going to make them become the first place of contact for patients with minor illnesses over the next 5 years. There are already more than 10,000 pharmacies that are ready to receive referrals from the other departments of the health service.
There is an urgent need for more nurses in the NHS, and Hancock was very excited to announce that the NHSs’ commitment to 50,000 nurses has started and that an expanded nursing recruitment advertising campaign was launched.
A £2 billion package of financial support for trainee nurses has been made available to attract more nurses into the profession. Student nurses will receive a non-repayable training grant worth £8,000 a year which doubles the existing financial support that was previously available.
Student nurses will also receive a minimum of £5,000 extra a year to help with things like childcare and mental health support.
Nurses are important, but GPs are crucial to the NHS and so the pension system will be fixed so that senior doctors and nurses can take on extra shifts without the fear of extreme tax being deducted. The annual allowance taper is also being reviewed and being fixed permanently so clinicians will be confident they will be fairy rewarded for their hard work.
The number of staff leaving the NHS each year because they feel under-value or burnt out will be helped in the following ways:
- The mental and physical health of staff will be as important of that of their patients
- A positive, compassionate and inclusive culture will be created
- Harassment, bullying and discrimination will be tackled
Baroness Dido Harding will lead The People Plan which is dedicated to recruit and retain more staff and create the right culture in the NHS. The working culture will be transformed and make the NHS the best place for all.
Technology saves clinicians a lot of valuable time, and from Hancock’s 125 visits to various health care departments, continuous upgrades over the next 5 years are sorely needed.
In Warrington they have introduced e-prescribing on the medicine that is administered throughout the hospital. The drug trolleys are electronically connected to the systems so nurses know exactly what medicine to put in which patient’s casing. When the medicine is taken it is confirmed in the system.
This technology is very basic but it is saving clinicians a lot of time and technology is going to be used to give people and patients the tools to manage their own healthcare. Patient data will be easily accessed from anywhere, if and when it is needed.
Better technology means better health and social care.
Hancock set up the NHSX for this reason- so that the vision, strategy and delivery of advanced technology can be implemented and used across the NHS to improve the lives of both staff and patients. NHS Digital is also vital to the building, designing, operating and deploying digital services and products.
Health and Social Care will launch the UK to the frontline of world leaders in healthcare using cutting-edge techniques and technologies. Research into various illnesses and discovering new ways to advance the needs of the medical community is crucial to this goal.
With all the aspects of the NHSs’ plan to improve and excel across every department, more opportunities will be created, staff will flourish and more lives will be saved.
Hancock concluded by saying: “I am energised, excited but also absolutely determined to meet the commitments we’ve made – and also to repay the trust put in us.
“There’s a lot of work to do. So let’s get to it”.