The Government has released its long term plan for improving NHS care in England over the next ten years, with an extra £20.5bn allocated to the NHS budget.
A significant part of the plan is to improve mental health services for children and adults, which will receive a growing share of the NHS budget of £2.3bn by 2023/24.
The plan also sets out that the NHS intends to play a full part in supporting research and innovation, although there was a lack of detail about rare conditions in the plan.
While the plans which have been announced apply to England, distribution of Treasury funds will result in an increased NHS budget in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Mental health services
One of Muscular Dystrophy UK’s priorities is focused on improving psychological support across the UK for children and adults through our Mental Health Matters campaign, so the focus on mental health in the NHS plan is an important step in the right direction.
The NHS will be investing in expanding access to community-based mental health services to meet the needs of more children and young people.
The NHS will continue to work with schools, parents and local councils on better information sharing and the use of digital interventions, with plans for introducing new national waiting time standards for all children and young people who need specialist mental health services.
NHS England is working closely with Universities UK via the Mental Health in Higher Education programme to build the capability and capacity of universities to improve student welfare services and improve access to mental health services for the student population.
The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health set out plans for expanding Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services so at least 1.5 million people can access care each year by 2020/21, with a focus on those with long-term conditions. IAPT services have now evolved to deliver benefits to people with long-term conditions, which aims to provide integrated care.
Research and innovation
The emphasis on research and innovation in the plan ties in closely with our Fast Track to treatments campaign which aims to boost clinical trial capacity and ensure that new treatments reach eligible patients as quickly as possible
The Government’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy aims to ensure that the UK is one of the best places in the world to do biomedical research, with globally renowned scientists and institutions. The NHS endorses and will play its full part in the recently announced Life Sciences sector deal.
The NHS will be the first national health care system to offer whole genome sequencing as part of routine care. As part of the NHS’ contribution to the UK government’s broader aims to reach five million genomic tests and analyses over the same timeframe, the new NHS Genomic Medicine Service will sequence 500,000 whole genomes by 2023/24. This builds on the legacy of the 100,000 genomes programme from the partnership between Genomics England and the NHS.
The NHS aims to speed up the pipeline for developing innovations in the NHS, so that proven and affordable innovations get to patients faster. The new scheme will mean patients benefit from faster adoption of cutting-edge and best value drugs.
Rob Burley, Director of Campaigns, Care and Support at Muscular Dystrophy UK commented:
We welcome the Government’s recognition that improvements are needed for mental health services. It is crucial that appropriate psychological support for people with long term conditions such as neuromuscular conditions and their families is available, as highlighted by the recent report by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Muscular Dystrophy.
The continued commitment to research and innovation is positive. However, there must also be focus and attention by the Government on improving NICE’s treatment appraisal process to enable life-changing new treatments for rare conditions to reach patients more quickly.
Through our Mental Health Matters and Fast Track to treatments campaigns, we will be holding the Government and the NHS to account and pressing for the required improvements to access to services and treatments.