- Posted Wednesday March 13, 2019
The publication of the 138-page Long-Term Plan for the NHS makes for very interesting reading. It is a detailed view on how the NHS should develop over the next few years.
While it does raise many questions that will need addressing, the outline is encouraging. I tried to read the document with no preconceived ideas or biases and was impressed with both the aims that the plan sets out and the level of detail it contains. It focuses on many of the most pressing health issues of today, such as old age and mental health.
A healthy dose of ambition
We have already heard from the many critics of the plan and seen their concerns, but that is the norm in cases where we see such expansive plans for the NHS. How you interpret the plan will most likely depend on the role you are employed in within the NHS
The plan is ambitious, and I think that is a good thing. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if we all agreed to try to work together, support the plan and achieve these challenges – coming together as a team rather than stoking an ‘us and them’ culture?
Imagine if we came together to say to the government, we will work with you on this - as long as you fund it properly and recruit accordingly. I am sure I can hear groans from people reading this who think I must be mad for suggesting it.
Well, I ask - what is the other option? More years of struggling, more years of not bringing our working practices up to meet the demands of the times we live in?
Coping with patient expectations
Of course, I do have issues with the plan… I see no mention of what is expected from patients, telling them honestly what they should expect and how to behave, such as cancelling appointments they can no longer attend.
Patients have the ultimate weapon in complaining about anything and expecting everything. Over the past few weeks in my practice, we have had patients arriving at reception each day demanding to be seen immediately for things that turned out to be non-urgent.
We all need to be incredibly careful dealing with people, so it’s difficult to turn patients away and this is really adding to our workload.
I think the plan should have done more around tackling patients’ expectations and setting out a joined-up approach for this. If the money on offer by the government is enough to get this sort of plan working, then I for one support it.
All too often in these cases things take longer to achieve and of course reviews and circumstances change. However, I do believe we can get a better NHS fit for our times if we want to.
A coherent and achievable plan for the future
I have often referred in my blogs to taking the NHS out of politics. Wouldn’t it be refreshing for all parties to sign up to such a plan so that initiatives like the Long-Term Plan are not abandoned or changed beyond vision as the political landscape changes.
So yes, I do support the plan. I can see the thinking behind it and it does address many of the fundamental changes needed. Whilst not perfect, it is a start - I hope everyone can get behind it to give it a chance of working to the benefit of all.
What are your impressions of the NHS Long-Term Plan? Let us know in the comments section below, and stay tuned to the FPM Blog to learn more about all the latest developments and news stories relating to primary care.