£2.3 bn a year extra for mental health promised in NHS Long Term Plan

The NHS Long Term Plan, launched on 7 January, sets out how the £20.5 billion budget settlement for the NHS, announced by the Prime Minister last summer, will be spent over the next five years, and includes measures to prevent 150,000 heart attacks, strokes, and dementia cases, as well as to provide better access to mental health services for adults and children. The Department of Health says the Plan ‘focuses on building an NHS fit for the future’, by: •enabling everyone to get the best start in life; •helping communities to live well; •helping people to age well.

It has been developed in partnership with frontline health and care staff, patients, and their families, with the aim of improving outcomes for major diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, and dementia. The Plan includes measures to:

  • improve out-of-hospital care, supporting primary medical and community health services;

  • ‘ensure that all children get the best start in life’ by continuing to improve maternity safety including halving the number of stillbirths, maternal and neonatal deaths, and serious brain injury by 2025;

  • support older people through more personalised care and stronger community and primary care services;

  • ‘make digital health services a mainstream part of the NHS, so that in five years, patients in England will be able to access a digital GP offer’.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “The NHS Long Term Plan, backed by a historic commitment of an extra £20.5 billion a year from taxpayers, marks an important moment not just for the health service, but for the lives of millions of patients and hardworking NHS staff across the country. Whether it’s treating ever more people in their communities, using the latest technology to tackle preventable diseases, or giving every baby the very best start in life, this government has given the NHS the multi-billion-pound investment needed to nurture and safeguard our nation’s health service for generations to come.”

With the Government having made much in the past 3-4 years of its determination to give parity to acute and mental healthcare, the Plan also include a promise to spend at least £2.3 bn more a year on mental healthcare over the next five years, ‘expanding support for perinatal mental health conditions, increasing funding for children and young people’s mental health, helping 380,000 more people get therapy for depression and anxiety by 2023/24, and delivering community-based physical and mental care for 370,000 people with severe mental illness a year by the same date’.