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“This is a historic moment”, the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Theresa May MP, declared earlier this week at the launch of the NHS’s new ‘Long-Term plan’. This ten-year plan is combined with a five-year funding settlement and will see the NHS receive £20.5 billion more by 2023.

‘Integration’ is the strategy’s buzzword, with the plan setting out a vision to develop an integrated system of care, rather than viewing each encounter as a “single, unconnected ‘episode’.”

The plan’s commitment to dissolve what it calls the “historic divide” between primary and community health services is met by a guarantee that real term funding for primary and community health services will grow faster than the rising NHS budget overall. This is the first time that such a commitment has been made in the history of the NHS. Yet, fears abound that the plan’s ambitions can’t be achieved without concomitant support given to other health and social care partners.

To be effective, a genuinely integrated health and social care system must collaborate with all actors in the health system. It must also recognise that the NHS cannot continue to act monolithically in an increasingly diverse sector. Moreover, as Cllr Ian Horspath, chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board has claimed, the NHS’s ambitions “can only be fully realised if adult social care and public health services in councils are also properly funded”.

If the Government is serious about its intention to give physical and mental health parity of esteem, it must protect and consider strengthening local authority budgets. Local authorities are responsible for significant aspects of care work, including the provision of social services, youth work, and support for the UK’s tens of thousands of looked-after-children. Yet, analysis by the Local Government Association reveals that, on average, councils will have suffered a 77% decrease in central government funding between 2015 and 2019.

This is why Cllr Horspath also claimed that it was a “missed opportunity” to release the Government’s long-expected social care green paper. This paper, which has now been delayed multiple times, is due to set out the Government’s proposals for the future funding of these vital devolved social care services.

Indeed, this plan acknowledges Britain’s burgeoning care crisis and recognises that a more ‘joined-up’ approach is needed to combat this. Escalating diagnoses of cancer and diabetes, which the plan associates with an ageing society, is recognised by commitments to make diagnoses within 28 days of referral and double the NHS diabetes prevention programme entrants. The plan’s commitment to assist the one in six people over the age of 80 who have dementia, and their carers, who are often their partners and may themselves have aged-related health issues, is long overdue and very welcome. But, again, the renewed focus on community-based care must be met by adequate funding for local partners.

An agile, more responsive, and proactive NHS is clearly in the public interest and would act to prevent escalating rates of hospitalisation. This latest plan’s ambition to free up over a million hospital bed days is therefore welcome. Yet all of this hinges, as the Prime Minister has herself admitted, on ensuring a smooth Brexit transition, a prerequisite whose fate will be decided at next week’s meaningful vote.

Craig Bateman is a student at the London School of Economics studying for an MSc in International Social and Public Policy. He is currently undertaking a weeks work experience at Bright Blue. The views expressed in this article are those of the author, not necessarily those of Bright Blue.