The new long-term plan for the NHS

In June, Theresa May announced an additional £20bn funding as an early ‘birthday present’ for the NHS, which is turning 70 this year. Although not quite the level of funding recommended by The King’s Fund and other health charities, this unexpected injection of funds for the health service is a welcome step for the health service, for charities delivering health and care services, and for their beneficiaries.  

Securing this funding was conditional on the NHS developing its long-term vision for health and care and demonstrating how the money was going to be used to improve systems and services by the autumn budget, which takes place on Monday 29 October. The additional funding will be shared across the UK, with money going to each of the devolved nations who manage their own health spending. Since the announcement, NHS England has been consulting with staff, stakeholders and the wider public on the new plan, including engagement with our sector.   

How the plan is being developed  

Producing a long-term plan for the next ten years of the health service is no easy task, let alone trying to produce one in the few months between the June announcement and the October budget. Given the short timeframe, NHS England has shown a genuine commitment to consulting with charities as part of the process,  

During the consultation period, NCVO has been encouraging charities to feed into the plan, using the depth and breadth of knowledge and experience in our sector to support the NHS to achieve the outcomes they are hoping for as part of the plan. We have also run a series of four long-term plan consultation events with charities across England which have been fed directly back to NHS England.  

Responding to the consultation as part of the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance  

NCVO is a member of the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance, a strategic partnership between the voluntary sector and health and care systems. It is made up of 21 alliance members, all voluntary organisations and networks which represent communities with protected characteristics or that experience health inequalities.  

In collaboration with the rest of the alliance, we decided to respond to the consultation on the long-term plan in the form of a letter to Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England. We know that individual organisations would be responding to their individual specialist areas, so our response looked at the systemic changes we believe would lead to better health outcomes.  

A focus on health inequality  

The alliance focused much of its response on the NHS’s commitment to the inclusion of tackling health inequalities as part of the long-term plan. The letter notes the history of engagement and support for the NHS from the voluntary sector on this issue. It emphasises the importance of health inequality being considered across the different areas of the long-term plan, and not in a silo.  

Our recommendations include creating stronger accountability mechanisms for health bodies on use of social value, ensuring co-production of services with people with lived experience, and reporting wellbeing measures. These approaches have the potential to maximise the impact of health spending where they are used effectively, but are currently used poorly. The alliance recommended a complete review of the existing outcomes frameworks, and additional funding to be made contingent on demonstrating progress.  

What happens next?  

The final recommendation in the letter asks NHS England to continue to engage at a strategic level with the voluntary sector. It celebrates the success the Health and Wellbeing Alliance has started having in increasing integrated working, information sharing and amplifying the voice of lived experience in the development of policy and practice and encourages the continuation of this. 

Now the consultation has closed the NHS are preparing for a final draft plan by the budget in just under a month’s time. NHS England have committed to continued dialogue with VCSE organisations about the implementation of the plan, and we encourage all charities and social enterprises with an interest to keep talking to NHS England, both directly and through discussions with the Health and Wellbeing Alliance, to make sure our views continue to be heard.  


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Rosie joined NCVO in 2018 as a trainee external relations officer after working as a programme manager for a literacy charity. Rosie supports both NCVO’s parliamentary work and media relations, including Constructive Voices, and is responsible for organising our annual Campaigning Conference.

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