NHS England has published its plan to address funding, staffing and the needs of an ageing population among other pressures in the future.
The plan sets out how the NHS will adapt to the population’s needs by offering digital services, growing and supporting the workforce, tackling health inequalities and improving patient outcomes.
Commenting in response, Tracey Bleakley, Chief Executive of Hospice UK, said:
“The NHS Long Term Plan sets out an ambitious vision for improving healthcare in England over the coming decade and we will hope it will deliver on its aims. The challenge will be putting this into action at a local level.
“While the Plan’s focus on prevention and cure is crucial, delivering compassion, comfort and promoting patients’ wellbeing are just as important, particularly for people with life-limiting and terminal conditions. Hospices play a key role in maintaining quality of life for people with palliative care needs, including through day hospice services, which are critical in supporting their independence.
“Given the immense challenges the NHS faces in supporting the needs of the UK’s ageing population and the growing demand for hospice care, we are very glad to see the NHS’s stated intention to work with voluntary sector partners, including hospices, to improve end of life care.
“We also welcome the Plan’s focus on out-of-hospital care and greater investment in community services. This will help address the ‘revolving door’ that many people approaching the end of life face who are often admitted needlessly to hospital.
“Finally, we hope the NHS Long Term Plan will soon be followed by plans to radically improve social care. The needs of people with life-limiting conditions are complex and multi-faceted and will not be addressed by the NHS alone. They require services across health and social care, the public and voluntary sectors, to work together in an integrated way to provide support.”
Scott Sinclair, Head of Policy and Public Affairs for England at Marie Curie, commented:
“The ambition set out in the report charts, on paper, a clear way forward for the NHS over the next 10 years and we welcome the targets on disease prevention, with the report vowing to save 500,000 more lives.
“The direction of travel is positive but it would be reckless to neglect the needs of the 5.5 million people who will die over the course of the next 10 years that this plan is implemented – the majority of who will need palliative and end of life care.
“Following the campaigning we undertook with our supporters, it’s encouraging to see that the Government has listened to our calls for more thorough and detailed plans on how we care for people at the end of their lives.
“The country’s ageing population means that people will be living longer but needing more health and social care as a result. By acknowledging that care for dying patients needs to be personalised, that proactive care planning is vital, and that staff need to be supported and trained is a big step in the right direction.
“The Government has also recognised that reducing avoidable hospital admissions and helping people die in their place of choice are important measures of success. The Government must now set out how it aims to deliver on these promises to ensure that dying patients, and their families, get the care they need when they need it most.
“As the UK’s leading terminal illness charity, we are already making big strides in these areas and we are looking forward to working with NHS England to improve end of life care.”
Andy Fletcher, CEO of children’s palliative care charity Together for Short Lives, commented on NHS England’s decision to recognise children’s palliative care as an important priority. He said:
“This recognition by NHS England is crucial for seriously ill children. It is also a clear message to CCGs that planning and funding palliative care for children with life-limiting conditions in hospitals, hospices and the community is part of their core business.
“NHS England has set out a range of measures which has potential to bring about real change for some of our most vulnerable children and their families. Their success will depend on whether the government is now able to put in place a long-term children’s palliative care strategy underpinned by a sustainable workforce and a properly-funded children’s social care system. Children with life-limiting conditions do not have time to wait and I urge ministers and officials to continue to work with Together for Short Lives to capitalise on the opportunities set out today.”
For more information visit NHS Long Term Plan