In Depth

NHS: what you need to know about the 'radical' proposals

Health bosses are asking for an extra £8bn to implement a drastic five-year plan for the NHS – but what does it involve?

The NHS urgently needs a "radical" overhaul and extra funding in order to prevent "severe consequences" to patients, health bosses have warned.

The chief executive of NHS England Simon Stevens has presented the government with a five-year plan he says will relieve the pressure on hospitals and GP practices and provide patients with better care.

"We have no choice but to do this. If we do it a better NHS is possible," he told The Guardian. "If we don't the consequences for patients will be severe."

An extra £8bn on top of the NHS's £100bn budget will be required by 2020 to fund the plan, known as the NHS Forward View. It will also require the full support of future governments to be successful, warned Stevens.

He said the NHS was now at a "crossroads", and the country needed to decide "which way to go".

Where has this proposal come from?

The plan was drawn up by Stevens in partnership with five other national bodies; Public Health England, the regulator Monitor, the NHS Trust Development Agency, Care Quality Commission and Health Education England.

What does it involve?

One of the key points in the proposal involves "breaking down the boundaries" between hospitals and GP surgeries so that they help each other, according to ITV News.

The measures he suggested include:

  • Turning GP surgeries into 'mini-hospitals' where procedures such as MRI scans and minor surgeries can take place in order to relieve the pressure on hospitals.
  • Allowing hospitals to set up their own GP practices in areas where GPs are under strain
  • An "all-out assault" on obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption
  • Giving ambulance services the power to make more decisions about patient care
  • Creating new bodies that will provide hospitals and GP surgeries with mental health and social care
  • Getting employers to offer cash incentives such as shopping vouchers to encourage staff to lead healthier lifestyles and lose weight.
What has the reaction been?

The report was welcomed by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and health minister Norman Lamb who said it was "really imaginative thinking".

"I think this combines case of more investment but also change... is absolutely the right message," he told BBC Breakfast.

Hunt said the report "demonstrates conclusively that the NHS has improved dramatically in recent years and can do so in the future, but only if it continues to implement important reforms and is supported by a strong economy."

However, Labour has responded by alleging that some of the measures were ones it has already proposed. The party's shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: "We've said that the NHS will be our priority in the next Parliament, and alongside that, we're saying that the time has come to bring social care into the NHS."

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