What does the NHS Long Term Plan mean for the voluntary sector?

Sarah Morland, Partnership Manager
Article date
14 January 2019
Primary interest

The long awaited NHS Long Term Plan was published last week. The document is 115 pages long (without appendices). This news article does not attempt to summarise the whole document. It highlights, from my perspective, some of the points that I think may be of particular interest to voluntary organisations supporting the health and wellbeing of people in Reading (and beyond).

You can find the full NHS Long Term Plan here.

Some key points:

Within the next five years over 2.5 million more people will benefit from ‘social prescribing’, a personal health budget, and new support for managing their own health in partnership with patients’ groups and the voluntary sector.

The aim is to have Social Prescribing link workers working closely with primary care networks (GP practices, alliances and hubs) to widen the support available to patients in their communities.  As there are three different social prescribing/navigation services across Berkshire West, (SP in Reading, Community Navigation In Wokingham and Village Agents in West Berkshire) we are keen to work with the CCG to build on our experience and develop an approach for people living across Berkshire West

There will be an accelerated ‘roll out of Personal Health Budgets (PHBs) to give people greater choice and control over how care is planned and delivered’. The plan talks about community-based packages of personal and domestic support. PHBs will be expanded to include mental health, learning disability, end of life, and people receiving social care support – we need to understand what opportunities this will create for voluntary organisations.

There is emphasis on developing Integrated Care Systems (ICS) working with local authorities. The Berkshire West ICS includes Berkshire West CCG, the Royal Berkshire Hospital and Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trusts, and providers of GP services in four locality or neighbourhood ‘alliances’. The plan says that every ‘ICS will need streamlined commissioning arrangements to enable a single set of commissioning decisions at system level’ and that an ICS partnership board will have the clear expectation that the voluntary and community sector will wish to participate. We need to understand what this will look like in practice and how we can ensure engagement with the whole sector.

The plan gives a strong emphasis on prevention, which is at the heart of the services offered by so many voluntary organisations. The top 5 risk factors for health and wellbeing highlighted are smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, alcohol and drug use. Air pollution and lack of exercise are also seen as significant. There are opportunities for voluntary sector providers to work with primary care networks to address some of these factors as well as the health inequalities across our communities.

I will continue to digest the content of the NHS Long Term Plan and publish further news articles over the coming weeks, focused on different aspects of the plan. Meanwhile, if you have any specific queries, do email me, sarah.morland@rva.org.uk.