THE long term plan for the NHS has undoubted strengths. Its commitment to shifting the focus of NHS services much more into the community is exactly the right priority. Integration and prevention are essential focuses, and totally correct.
So it is highly unfortunate that failures outside the plan itself mean that it cannot – on its own – safeguard the future of the health and social care system. The Government still lacks any sort of strategy for health and wellbeing, and has not even published its Green Paper with proposals to end the ongoing social care crisis.
Last year’s funding announcement promises another five years of below-trend growth for the NHS, on top of the eight it has just endured, and excluded key areas of expenditure. The growing shortages in the health and care workforce are a major threat, and could make the plan undeliverable. Training skilled staff cannot be done quickly, and it is not clear whether the Government’s immigration proposals and our exit from the European Union will support recruitment from abroad.
NHS England has done what was asked of it in terms of developing a coherent plan.
The Government now needs to do its part, and get serious about addressing the substantial strategic problems that still pose major threats to the health and care system.
From Peter Hyde, Driffield.
I SEE that problem smokers and drinkers are costing the NHS an awful lot of money through having health problems. I was both a smoker and a drinker, and was usually broke.
As a country police officer, I had to attend the post-mortem examination of one of my parishioners.
The cause of death was lung cancer but the pathologist, who was the local doctor on my patch, lifted out the blackened lungs and asked: “How many do you smoke?”
I gave a figure and he then said: “Your lungs will soon be like these, you know.”
I told him that I was stopping there and then.
He laughed at me. But I did stop and have never touched them since. At the same time, I cut my drinking. After a few weeks, I felt better and am now 86 years of age.
I own my own home and have money in the bank, a situation I would not be in but for that afternoon. Perhaps showing smokers a pair of pickled lungs would have the same effect as they had on me.