British politics is in utter chaos at the moment, and all of the attention is currently on whether Mrs May will get her Brexit deal approved by parliament. However, the headlines of this week are about the new plans released by the government for the NHS. The plan covers a variety of different areas it wants to target and improve. The NHS is becoming ever more problematic for the government and it will only continue to do so. The ageing population means hospitals are being stretched to their limits and unless radical investment and concentration on the NHS is implemented, then we could soon see the beloved health service collapse.
What is in the plan?
There are lots of different areas in which the government is trying to improve the NHS and its spending, but the main point is about investment. In October 2018, the Conservatives announced they would give the NHS ‘the biggest cash boost in history’ of £20.5 billion a year. Adding onto this large sum of money, the government are also committing to £4.5 billion investment in ‘primary and community care’. The Conservatives have proudly said that austerity is ending, and this plan is trying to demonstrate to the British public that investment is returning to public services and the welfare state. Here is a breakdown of some of the new initiatives:
Bringing the NHS into the digital age – The aim is so that everyone in the UK will be allowed digital access to their GP, which includes making appointments and viewing their health records online. Furthermore, it also wants to see the introduction of online video consultations and to ensure that GP’s are not bogged down in routine checks. However, an argument for this is that it will take up to a decade for this radical proposal to be implemented. There is no doubt that the NHS must evolve with the digital times, but it is certainly a difficult ask!
Community care – The primary aim is to ensure that hospital admissions decrease, but with an ageing population this is very difficult. The government wants to ensure that if someone is admitted to hospital with a minor injury or issue, then the hospital is able to release that patient quickly and efficiently to ensure there isn’t a backlog. Moreover, the main area of development for this is the cooperation between local councils and hospitals so that a patient still receives good care at home. However, the issue of this is that social care is still largely ignored and there is still a huge amount of work needed to ensure the social care system and the NHS cooperate effectively.
Earlier cancer detection – The government have been promoting this section of the plan because they know that it is very personal to the vast majority of people. It is said that 9 in 10 people have a relative who has had cancer and it is not surprising that the Conservatives want to target this disease. The aim is to improve the number of people who have cancer identified in stages 1 and 2. In theory, if this plan works then the cancer survival rate will dramatically improve. The NHS target of 62 days waiting time to get treatment has been regularly missed over the last few years, and therefore the government believe there needs to be radical change.
Will the plan work?
Everyone will welcome new investment and changes into the NHS. The health service is regularly rated as the best in the world and therefore any government regardless of political affiliation will want to see it succeed. The plan will work but there won’t be a sudden change overnight, despite what people expect. Nevertheless, the cash boost is definitely helpful, but it is difficult to see how the NHS is going to quickly develop and change its approach to the ageing population. The Conservatives have certainly set out a positive plan, but whether it will be enough to satisfy the public and meet the ever-growing pressures and demands is another question.