Matt Hancock – 2019 Statement on the NHS Long-Term Plan

Matt Hancock

Below is the text of the speech made by Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health, in the House of Commons on 1 July 2019.

Mr Speaker, I would like to update the House on the implementation of the NHS long-term plan and the delivery of improvements to the health service. Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Ministry of Health, founded under the Liberal and Conservative coalition of Lloyd George, and the Department has been staffed by brilliant, impartial civil servants ever since, and is today.

I can tell the House that on Thursday last the boards of NHS England and NHS Improvement agreed the long-term plan implementation framework. Alongside the clinical review of standards, and the interim workforce plan, published last month, this framework is a critical step in delivering on our 10-year vision for the NHS, and in transforming our health service with the record funding that this Government are putting in. The document sets out the framework within which each of the 300 commitments in the long-term plan will be delivered, and it also sets out the 20 headline commitments and how we will monitor the delivery of the plan. In the past, there have been criticisms that NHS plans have not led to full delivery. We are determined to ensure that the long-term plan fulfils its potential to transform the health service for the better, and I am placing a copy of the implementation framework in the Libraries of both Houses.

I wish to draw attention to three particular areas, the first of which is cancer care. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon and Billericay (Mr Baron) for his efforts to ensure that we focus on the vital indicator of cancer survival. The Prime Minister set out the ambition that by 2028 three quarters of all stageable cancers are detected at stage 1 or stage 2. Early detection and diagnosis are essential to the enhancement of people’s chances of surviving cancer.

Since 2010, rates of cancer survival have increased year on year. However, historically our survival rates in the UK have lagged behind the best-performing countries in Europe. The implementation framework sets out our goal of measuring the one-year cancer survival rates as one of the core metrics for the long-term plan. The one-year survival rate is how we measure our progress in achieving the ambitions set out in the plan. To realise those ambitions and ensure that we do everything we can to give people diagnosed with cancer the best chance of survival, the framework sets out: first, a radical overhaul of screening programmes; secondly, new state-of-the-art technology to make diagnosis faster and more accurate; and thirdly, more investment in research and innovation.

From this year, we will start the roll-out of rapid diagnostic centres throughout the country, building on the success of a pilot with Cancer Research UK, so that we can catch cancer much earlier. NHS England is further extending lung health checks, targeting areas with the lowest survival rates, and Health Education England is increasing the cancer workforce, which will lead to 400 more clinical endoscopists and 300 more reporting radiographers by 2021. With these steps, our ambition is that 55,000 more people will survive cancer for five years, each year from 2028. Improving the ​one-year survival rate is how we ensure that the NHS remains at the forefront of cancer diagnosis and treatment and continues to deliver world-class care.

The second area is mental health. The Prime Minister and her predecessor rightly prioritised the treatment of mental health so that we can ensure that mental health finally gets parity with physical health. The £33.9 billion cash-terms settlement, which is the longest and largest cash settlement in the history of the NHS, includes a record £2.3 billion extra in real terms for the expansion of mental health services. The framework sets out how 380,000 more adults and 345,000 more children and young people will get access to mental health support. I pay tribute to the mental health Minister, the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Jackie Doyle-Price), who has done so much work to put the issue on the agenda.

We are introducing four-week waiting-time targets for children and young people and testing four-week community mental health targets for adults. The implementation framework refers specifically to the vital improvements to community mental health services that we all know are needed. Those improvements include services for adults living with serious mental disorders, including eating disorders, and for those coping with substance misuse. The framework also sets out how we will create a new workforce of mental health support teams to work with schools and colleges to help to identify young people who need help and reach them faster. In all, it is a fundamental shift in how we treat mental illness and how the NHS will prioritise mental health services.

The third area that I wish to touch on is people. Three quarters of the NHS budget goes on staff, because people are the most valuable resource that we have in the NHS. We need not only the right numbers but to ensure that staff have the right support. The long-term plan sets out our ambition to recruit, train and retrain the right numbers of staff over the next decade. Last month, Baroness Dido Harding set out the interim people plan, which sets out how we will build the workforce we need and create the right culture, so that doctors, nurses and other NHS staff have the time to care for patients and for themselves.

Last week, the British Medical Association accepted in a referendum the new agreement with junior doctors that will improve both pay and working conditions. Thanks to the hard work of my predecessor, we are already taking steps to increase the number of clinical training places by opening five new medical schools and increasing the number of routes into nursing through apprenticeships and nursing associates. Last year, more than 5,000 nursing associates started training through apprenticeships. This year, it will be up to 7,500.

Those are just three of the most vital areas from the 10-year vision for the NHS set out in the long-term plan. Across England, based on the implementation framework, local strategic plans are now being developed and will be brought together as part of a national implementation plan by the end of the year, and all of this will be underpinned by technology. Today sees the official opening of NHSX, the new part of the NHS, which will drive digital transformation to give citizens and clinicians the technology they need and save and improve lives. I am delighted that NHSX has received ​such a warm welcome across the NHS because it has so much potential to transform every part of health and social care for patients and staff.

The forthcoming spending review will settle budgets for health education, public health and NHS capital investment, and the settlements will feed into the final implementation of this plan. As part of the spending review, we will also review the current functioning and structure of the better care fund, which is rising in line with NHS revenue growth.

On this the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Ministry of Health, this framework sets out how we will go about securing the foundations of the national health service into the next century and the creation of an NHS that delivers world-class care for generations to come. I commend this statement to the House.