Prime Minister Theresa May has voiced support for a new long-term funding plan for the National Health Service.
Addressing a House of Commons Liaison Committee, she reportedly said that for the NHS needs “to get away from those annual top ups of the budget that we see and we do need to have a sustainable long-term plan.
"And that, I think, should build on the work of the five-year forward view, but look beyond it and a plan which allows the NHS to realise greater productivity, to realise efficiency gains.”
The multi-year plan should be drawn up in advance of next year’s spending review, she told MPs.
“The Prime Minister’s promise really is the best possible Easter present for the health and social care system after a truly torrid winter,” said Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation.
“We have been calling for a settlement which is long-term, more generous and one that addresses health and social care together, rather than as individual entities. Tonight the Prime Minister signalled an intent to tick all three boxes and we are delighted.”
The new came just a day after the Public Accounts Committee warned that the NHS’ financial state remains “perilous”, mainly because of the continued reliance on short-term fixes.
“Our committee has repeatedly called for a long-term plan for the NHS and by July we expect the Department for Health and Social Care to explain in detail exactly how it is approaching this task,” said PAC chair, Meg Hillier MP.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Social Care has announced that forty NHS hospitals and community services will get £760 million to modernise and transform their buildings and services.
The funding, which was announced today by health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt, is the biggest investment of its kind in the NHS in over 10 years, it said.
The Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin sustainability and transformation partnership (STP) will receive the lion’s share of the cash, with £300 million to transform local hospital services, while the remainder is being handed out to 39 smaller projects, including £6 million to upgrade services of eight trusts across Yorkshire and £8 million for a new health and wellbeing centre to join up local NHS services in Kent.
“Further major projects are also under consideration across the country and we intend to announce one large scale scheme the size of the Shrewsbury and Telford plan every year going forward based on high-quality plans coming forward from local NHS leaders,” Hunt said.
The government said it is also releasing £150 million to support the NHS’ in becoming more efficient.
This money will be used to boost use of a digital programme that helps the NHS use its workforce better, enable more efficient use of energy in hospitals, potentially saving the NHS £12 million a year in the first three years, and improve pharmacy IT and administration systems to reduce medication errors and improve patient safety.