Theresa May reveals boost to mental health care as part of 'historic' 10-year NHS plan

Posted On: 
6th January 2019

Round-the-clock advice for those going through a mental health crisis and greater help for new mothers are among the pledges to be outlined in the new NHS plan, Theresa May has said.

Theresa May meets nurses at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital
Credit: 
PA Images

The Prime Minister said patients would have access to a "world class" health service once the NHS’ 10-year plan is put into force, following its full announcement on Monday.

It comes after Mrs May last year vowed an extra £20bn annually for the service by 2023-24 once NHS leaders had set out their priorities.

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Among the plans is an investment of £2.3bn in support for 350,000 children and young people and 380,000 adults suffering from mental health conditions.

The PM also vowed that young people would no longer be forced to restart their treatment with adult services when they turn 18.

Maternity safety is also set to improve, with greater mental health support for new parents.

Elsewhere patients will have greater digital access to their GPs, including being able to manage appointments, prescriptions and their own health records.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Mrs May admitted the added cash would mean “less room for manoeuvre” for other areas of public spending, but said she had "no doubt that it was the right decision".

“The NHS has always been the country's most beloved public service - there to provide outstanding care to us all whenever it is needed,” she wrote.

“The launch of the NHS long-term plan marks an historic step to secure its future and offers a vision for the service for the next 10 years, with a focus on ensuring that every pound is spent in a way that will most benefit patients.

“This will help relieve pressure on the NHS while providing the basis to transform care with world-class treatments.”

“Just as the NHS has a responsibility to look after all of us, everyone has a responsibility to the NHS to look after themselves,” he told the paper.

But Jennifer Dixon, chief executive of the Health Foundation think tank, said the ongoing squeeze on Britain's social care system and public health budgets would still need to be addressed.

"The Prime Minister’s promises to improve mental health and other NHS services are welcome, but making them a reality will be extremely tough given growing pressures on services, chronic staff shortages, and cuts to other parts of the health and care system," she said.

"While £20.5bn extra funding promised for NHS England by 2023/24 is generous compared with other public services, it is barely enough to keep pace with growing demand for care. This means trade-offs are inevitable, and these must be spelled out clearly so the public know what they can expect from the NHS."

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The Prime Minister’s comments come as Matt Hancock outlined plans for targeted advertising by ministers on those who placed the largest burden on the NHS through unhealthy living.

The Health Secretary told The Sunday Times that people’s “attitudes have to change” if the NHS is to thrive but said “nanny state” nagging of the country as a whole was wrong and annoyed those living healthier lifestyles.

Among the proposals is the introduction of a “stern talking to” by doctors and nurses of up to 40 minutes when patients' problems are related to alcohol abuse.

Elsewhere pregnant women will be targeted with emails and adverts to stop them smoking and drinking, while GPs will be encouraged to boost so-called “social prescribing”, of asking more patients to take part in physical activity rather than hand them medicine.