The ambitious NHS long term plan is putting people at the centre of healthcare and one which recognises that the NHS can look outside their doors to achieve a more integrated and person-focused service for the country.
We believe it takes more than medicine to get through a cancer experience so we especially welcome the nods to social prescribing and person-centred care as well as the awareness of the psychological and emotional impact cancer can have. There are steps being taken towards integrative care and we’re very pleased. Here are three things we’re excited about in the long term plan:
The plan: Over 1,000 trained social prescribing link workers will be in place by the end of 2020/21 rising further by 2023/24, with the aim that over 900,000 people are able to be referred to social prescribing schemes by then.
We’ve written about the benefits of social prescribing before and over the years prescribing non-medical interventions has featured in NHS plans but with no plans to encourage or enable primary carers to signpost patients to these options. Social prescribing can build resilience, give a patient control over their care, create strong bonds within communities and eases the demand on primary carers once these ties to local community and voluntary sectors are made. We know social prescribing is growing and we welcome connecting on services to this approach.
The plan: We will support and help train staff to have the conversations which help patients make the decisions that are right for them.
One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to healthcare and in the past has led to many people not getting the care they require. Aiming to provide meaningful care to a person can improve health outcomes.
Treatment for cancer
The plan: By 2021, where appropriate every person diagnosed with cancer will have access to personalised care, including needs assessment, a care plan and health and wellbeing information and support.
Cancer affects more than just our bodies and therefore it makes sense to look after your emotional, mental and spiritual health as well as your physical health before, during and after a cancer experience. Cancer survival rates are higher than they’ve ever been before as advances in treatment increase, but what has been left behind consistently is a focus on the emotional and psychological impact of cancer on the person with the diagnosis and their supporters. For decades what has been lacking in oncology is a joining up of conventional and complementary care; an integrated approach. Taking health and wellbeing support into account is a big step in the right direction for our health service.
In these turbulent and uncertain times it’s encouraging to read about a positive plan which aims to bring people and services together to achieve the best outcome for individuals. This long term plan aims to give people back control (person-centred care), join up public and voluntary sectors to provide non-medical care (social prescribing) and takes a holistic approach to long term health conditions (integrated care). We eagerly await to see how the NHS moves forward with these plans.