The new NHS long-term plan is a significant opportunity for the health service. It can set out a clear and achievable path for sustaining and improving patient care, and help cement political and public trust in the NHS.
In recent years, despite growing workforce and financial pressures, the NHS provider sector has delivered significantly more for patients. It has:
The NHS is a high performing but complex system. There is a long path ahead if we are to fulfil our ambitions for the service. The plan needs to set out where the NHS needs to be and how it will get there. But it must also be firmly grounded in the reality of where the NHS currently is. The provider sector comprises 227 NHS foundation trusts and trusts across England delivering acute, ambulance, community and mental health services. In 2017/18 it accounted for £84bn of the NHS’s £110bn budget. Yet it ended 2017/18 with a deficit of nearly £1bn, sustained underperformance against constitutional targets, an ageing infrastructure misaligned with care needs, and an overall 8% staff vacancy rate.