Will funding be available for the Secretary of State’s healthcare plans?
Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt has revealed his main aims for the long-term NHS plan to be announced for the health service’s 70th anniversary in July.
In an interview Mr Hunt told the Health Service Journal (HSJ) the 10-year plan should include ‘full’ integration of the health and social care system, much more use of technology and ‘really big’ efficiency improvements.
The health service will meet core performance targets such as waits in emergency departments and for planned operations early in the plan period.
Services will be transformed to ease pressure in emergency care: ‘We need to be able to commit to NHS staff that we are not going to see 10 more winters like the winters we have just had where staff are under enormous pressure.’
Staff needed to see service transformation, integrated care and the move to improved out of hospital care really happening, he said.
Asked whether he thought there were significant further efficiencies available to the NHS, he replied: ‘There is a huge amount more but it is not by asking NHS staff to work harder because they couldn’t work harder than they are working.’
Examples of changes that would bring improvements include modern IT systems enabling nurses to spend more time with patients, artificial intelligence in radiography and centralised procurement.
There has been no indication of what funding for the changes may be provided by the Treasury. Mr Hunt has suggested he might support a tax rise earmarked for health and social care.