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Best Laid Plan? Assessing NHS Leaders’ Views on the NHS Long Term Plan

Robert Ede and Jonothan Blackbourn

The NHS Long Term Plan was published to acclaim at the start of this year. But even the best laid plans of mice and men go awry.

So how can those tasked with implementation of the new NHS funding settlement ensure pledges are met and outcomes for patients improve? This was the starting point for new research from MHP.

New research launched by MHP Communications has found that alleviating workforce pressures is the number one priority for NHS Leaders in England, who also believe it could be one of the key challenges preventing successful delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan.

Our team worked with ComRes to poll NHS Leaders on their reactions to and priorities following the publication of the NHS Long Term Plan in January. The poll took place over early 2019, and has revealed several important findings:

  • Two-thirds of respondents appear positive about the NHS Long Term Plan and its focus on Integrated Care Systems stating it will result in “significant progress” towards achieving the local health priorities in their area
  • Only one in ten thought that laws such as the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, which encourage a competitive market for health services, were the main barriers to success of the NHS Long Term Plan

Instead, the main barriers to successful delivery of the Plan identified were institutional challenges within the NHS, such as financial pressures and staff shortages.

When asked to rank their immediate priorities for their organisation from a long-list, two-thirds of respondents chose either investment in their local workforce or increasing integration with other NHS organisations and local government in their top three. Meeting the core patient access targets (such as the A&E or elective waiting time targets) were only chosen by one in seven as an urgent priority for their organisation.

The findings have been covered in the media and were launched at a private roundtable this week, attended by clients and contacts and with special guest Philip Dunne MP, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Social Care from 2016-18.

The Best Laid Plan? Assessing NHS Leaders' Views on the NHS Long Term Plan