HEALTH bosses have cautiously welcomed the Government’s new long-term plan for the NHS — but it was criticised by Rotherham MPs for not going far enough.
The ten-year strategy unveiled on Monday was drawn up following Prime Minister Theresa May’s pledge that the NHS would get an extra £20 billion a year by 2023.
It includes allocating an additional £2.3 billion a year for mental health care, focusing on earlier cancer detection, increasing primary and community care funding by £4.5 billion and providing better access to services and health information for patients using digital technology.
In Rotherham, extra cash will go towards boosting children’s mental health services — a key aim of the Advertiser’s Class Action campaign.
Debbie Smith, chief operating officer for Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust, (RDaSH) said added investment would enable the trust’s current services to see children and young people quicker.
She said RDaSH was already working closely with Rotherhan’s Clinical Commissioning Group and other agencies to expand its mental health services.
Chris Edwards, joint chair of the Rotherham Integrated Care Partnership and chief officer of the CCG, said the national direction for the NHS was in line with local plans for Rotherham, which centres on supporting people and their families to live independently, prevention and self-management.
He said: “In Rotherham we are all passionate about providing the best possible care and outcomes for our population, through planning and delivering services that meet people’s needs.
“Through working together we will provide sustainable services over the long-term that aim to help all Rotherham people live well for longer.”
Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey said there was little in the plan to ease pressure on Rotherham Hospital or community NHS services, while Labour would pump in even more extra funding.
“The aspirations for improving patient care in the plan are welcome, but it will remain a wish list while the NHS is still held back by cuts and chronic staff shortages,” he said.
Rotherham MP Sarah Champion welcomed the extra funding but said the plan failed to address a current crisis in the health service.
“In the last nine years we have seen the running down of the NHS with the government forcing through the biggest funding squeeze in its history,” she said.
“This has happened in parallel to cuts to public health and social care. The NHS needs a credible, fully funded plan for the future — this plan doesn’t come close to replacing the funding lost through cuts since 2010, let alone give additional income to an overstretched service.”
Ms Champion added she thought it was “ironic” that after nine years of mismanagement, the Tories wanted another ten years “to clear up the mess they have orchestrated”
Rother Valley MP Sir Kevin Barron added he was pleased the plan was taking some “good steps”, include those aimed at reducing the impact of smoking and help people with long term mental health problems, but wondered where the extra funds would come from.
He said: “Labour’s research found 85 per cent of councils plan to reduce their public health budgets in 2018/19, totalling £96.3 million worth of cuts — the question is when will the Secretary of State commit to reversing these cuts or provide the money to fill the gap?”
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