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Primary care to receive £4.5bn investment under NHS long-term plan

The NHS long-term plan will put primary care at the forefront by giving it an additional £4.5bn worth of funding each year, ensuring investment in these services will grow faster than the overall NHS budget.

But the details on workforce planning – expected to feature heavily within the plan – will be published later in the year.

The long-term plan, published today, has revealed that, in real terms, £4.5bn a year of the £20.5bn of additional NHS funding received by 2023 will be invested into primary and community healthcare.

Mental health will receive £2.3bn, which will see community-based services, such as those in schools, expanded to help 345,000 more children and young people with mental health conditions.

NHS England claimed that there will be a ‘renewed focus’ on prevention to help prevent up to 85,000 premature deaths each year. This will see the Diabetes Prevention Programme expanded, smart inhalers piloted to aid prevention of admissions with respiratory conditions, and patients with cardiac conditions put through a healthy living and exercise plan each year.

They added that ‘almost everything’ within the plan is being implemented successfully somewhere within the NHS, and that the plan will now ensure these initiatives are rolled out across the entire organisation.

Ian Dalton, chief executive of NHS Improvement, said: ‘We need to build on the achievements of our NHS frontline staff and make the best use of the new investment to fundamentally reset how the NHS is run so that our growing and ageing population can get the right care at the right time and in the right place.’

But acting chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing Dame Donna Kinnair felt the omission of workforce planning was glaring.

She said: ‘When existing services are already under strain, NHS staff are waiting for a further plan to address the extra staff needed to keep care at the highest quality.

‘The NHS in England is already short of more than 40,000 nurses and the figure is rising. NHS England and the Government must urgently address these chronic shortages to make the plan the success it deserves to be.’

Chair of the British Medical Association Dr Chaand Nagpaul welcomed the ‘ideals’ set out in the plan, but also said it was ‘short on detail’ on workforce planning.

‘Given that there are 100,000 staff vacancies within the NHS, the long-term sustainability of the health service requires a robust workforce plan that addresses the reality of the staffing crisis across primary, secondary and community care. This will require additional resources for training, funding for which has not been mentioned in the long-term plan,’ Dr Nagpaul said.

He added: ‘The BMA supports increased investment in general practice and community care. This is imperative for effective future planning given the ageing population and the fact that doctors are treating patients with more complex needs, though we await further detail on how this will be delivered.’