Following consultation and feedback from organisations such as ours, the NHS Long Term Plan (LTP) was launched on 7th January. It sets out what the NHS wants to achieve over the next ten years. Many of the measures announced are part of the £20 billion extra funding announced by the government last year.
As some of the commitments laid out in the plan are driven by the need to treat more patients in their local communities, or at home, there is likely to be a resulting impact on unpaid carers.
However, there are some specific commitments in the plan which could support unpaid carers, for example:
- More options for phone or screen-based consultations at home, rather than hospital out-patient appointments – which can be difficult to attend.
- Consultants going out to GP surgeries, rather than expecting patients to come to them.
- The roll out of ‘top tips’ for GPs, which have been developed by young carers, which include access to preventive health and social prescribing, and timely referral to local support services.
- Improving the recognition of carers and the support they receive. This includes a plan to introduce quality markers for primary care that can highlight best practice in carer identification and support. It will also include the adoption of carers’ passports in health settings.
- New commitments to helping carers when things go wrong. For example, the plan suggests that more carers will understand their ‘out of hours’ options.
- More carers will have “contingency conversations” so carers have appropriate back up support in place, if and when they need it.
- An ambition to ‘bring down waiting times for autism assessments’ and the aim to ‘improve its understanding of the needs of people with learning disabilities and autism, and work together to improve their health and wellbeing’, plus to ensure that the NHS is ‘working more effectively with people with autism and their families’.
- The plan states that the NHS wants to ‘provide the right care for children with a learning disability’.
- Mental health support available to a wider range of children and young people through community services and schools in England.
- A new approach to young adult mental health services for people aged 18-25 with an aim to support the transition to adulthood.
- Increased early detection of cancer through better testing and giving every child diagnosed with cancer, a comprehensive DNA test to determine the best way to target treatment.
We have contacted the NHS LTP team to provide feedback on the plan and in particular where we have identified anomalies, for example in the use of the word “carer”, which we feel may have been mis-used in places, and could cause some confusion.
Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships and Integrated Care Systems (Locally, this is called ‘Healthier Together’) are groups of local NHS organisations working together with local councils, and other partners, now need to develop and implement their own local strategies for the next five years. These strategies will set out how they will take forward the details of the NHS Long Term Plan. There are likely to be opportunities for carers to be involved in the development of the local strategy, so please contact Caroline McAleese, Carers Engagement & Involvement Lead if you would like to hear more about these opportunities.