Prime minister Theresa May and NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens launched the NHS Long Term Plan this afternoon aiming to improve the quality of patient care and health outcomes.

It sets out how the £20.5 billion budget settlement for the NHS, announced by the Prime Minister in summer 2018, will be spent over the next five years and includes support for older people through more personalised care and stronger community and primary care services.

The plan focuses on building an NHS fit for the future by:

  • enabling everyone to get the best start in life
  • helping communities to live well
  • helping people to age well

The plan has been developed in partnership with frontline health and care staff, patients and their families. It will improve outcomes for major diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and dementia.

The plan also includes measures to:

  • improve out-of-hospital care, supporting primary medical and community health services
  • ensure all children get the best start in life by continuing to improve maternity safety including halving the number of stillbirths, maternal and neonatal deaths and serious brain injury by 2025
  • make digital health services a mainstream part of the NHS, so that in 5 years, patients in England will be able to access a digital GP offer

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: "The NHS long term plan, backed by a historic commitment of an extra £20.5 billion a year from taxpayers, marks an important moment not just for the health service but for the lives of millions of patients and hardworking NHS staff across the country.

"Whether it’s treating ever more people in their communities, using the latest technology to tackle preventable diseases, or giving every baby the very best start in life, this government has given the NHS the multi-billion-pound investment needed to nurture and safeguard our nation’s health service for generations to come."

The plan also includes a new guarantee that investment in primary, community and mental health care will grow faster than the growing overall NHS budget. There is also the biggest ever investment in mental health services rising to at least £2.3bn a year by 2023/24.

Responding to the publication, chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, said successful delivery will depend on four key factors that included ruthless prioritisation and effective implementation as well as a rapid solution to current workforce shortages.

He added: "This plan cannot be delivered whilst trusts still have 100,000 workforce vacancies. We need urgent action to solve what trust leaders current describe as their biggest problem. It’s a major concern that we will have to wait longer to get the comprehensive plan that is needed here.

“Third, a clear path to recovering performance in areas like urgent and emergency care and routine surgery. Despite trusts working flat out, the NHS has fallen behind where it needs to be, missing all its key performance targets over the last four years. Whilst trusts are ready to look at updating these targets, we mustn’t lose the enormous gains trusts made in cutting waiting lists and improving care in the early 2000s.

“Fourth, there are a range of other issues central to the success of the NHS that must be satisfactorily resolved through the spending review - social care, public health and NHS training budgets. We look forward to making a full and positive contribution.”