RCPCH responds to the NHS Long Term Plan

The Government has published its Long Term Plan for the NHS in England. The Plan presents a vision for the future of the NHS in England and includes ambitions for the next 10 years.

Responding to the publication of the Plan, Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said:

The health of children and young people is crucial to the future of this country, but England’s levels of care and wellbeing currently lag behind the rest of Western Europe. That’s why we’re delighted to see children and young people at the heart of NHS England’s Long Term Plan. 

Today’s announcement lays the foundations for an NHS with infants, children and young people at its core. That is why the setting up of a new Children and Young People’s Transformation Programme is vital.  We want to see this Programme deliver a distinct and cohesive child health strategy to deliver improved neonatal care, support for those young people with long term conditions, and timely and appropriate access to services and treatment for children and young people with emotional and mental health needs. We look forward to receiving more detail on this Transformation Programme in due course.

This is a powerful vision for the future, but it cannot be achieved without significant investment and expansion in the child health workforce.  That workforce is made up of paediatricians, specialist nurses, therapists and others who interact daily with young people. It is encouraging to see this acknowledged by NHS England but the Workforce Implementation Plan needs to be produced without delay.

We are pleased to see Simon Stevens’ plan support our vision that children in England will experience a seamless service delivered by an integrated health and care system, and await more information on how this will work in practice. Children and young people make up over a quarter of our population, so they and their families must be involved in the decision-making process to develop a health system that meets their needs.

Investment in public health is crucial for the long term. Our College supports the Plan’s focus on prevention and tackling health inequalities which are growing across the UK but the proposals need proper funding for public health services like smoking cessation programmes and weight management clinics.  We eagerly await more detail on a public health budget in this year’s comprehensive spending review.