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A brief summary of the NHS Plan

5.1 In March 2000 the NHS was set the challenge to modernise and reform its practices alongside an historic four-year increase in funding. The NHS Plan(5.1) set out measures to modernise the NHS to make it a health service fit for the 21st century and putting patients' needs at its centre.

5.2 The Plan involved the largest consultation exercise ever undertaken within the health service.

5.3 The full document can be found at:

The NHS Plan - Step by step reform

5.4 The NHS Plan sets out a programme of change, underpinned by 10 core principles, which aim to tackle the systemic problems which have undermined the effectiveness of the NHS. The NHS Plan sets out practical step-by-step reforms, which will improve care, treatment and service right across the board.

5.5 Improvement, Expansion and Reform - the Priorities and Planning Framework (PPF) 2003-2006 (5.2) was issued in October 2002 and describes the vision for services over the next three years. This takes forward the NHS Plan objectives, together with other national commitments, and sets targets that the NHS and social services need to meet during 2003-06.

Using the extra resources

5.6 The extra resources provided by the 2002 Budget allows the Government to go further in tackling the major capacity constraints suffered by the NHS.

5.7 The Government will use this extra investment to:

5.8 Recruit and retain increasing numbers of key staff. By 2008 the NHS is expected to have net increases over the September 2001 census of at least:

  • 15,000 consultants and GPs;
  • 35,000 nurses, midwives and health visitors; and
  • 30,000 therapists and scientists.

5.9 Expand and make better use of hospital capacity through a combination of measures. By 2008, it is expected that the NHS will have:

  • increased the number of operations carried out as same-day cases o over 75% of all operations - the equivalent of adding an extra ,700 general and acute beds in hospitals;
  • opened 42 additional major hospital schemes mostly delivered through the Private Finance Initiative with 13 more major chemes under construction; and
  • fully operational Treatment Centres (TCs) - the new generation of fast-track surgery centres which separate routine from emergency surgery.

5.10 Modernise the way services are delivered in order to expand the choices available to patients. For example:

  • establishing around 750 primary care one-stop centres across the country to offer a broader range of services, backed by more primary care nurses and specialist GPs, pharmacists, therapists and diagnostic services;
  • expanding the capacity of NHS Direct from 7.5 million callers per year to 30 million callers per year to provide advice, and direct patients to the most appropriate service for their needs; and
  • all outpatient appointments and inpatient elective admissions, including day cases, to be pre-booked by the end of 2005 and electronic patient records in all Primary Care Trusts by 2008.

5.11 The next steps for investment and reform were published in Delivering the NHS Plan (April 2002).(5.3) This document outlines what the public can expect to see in improved services as the Plan is implemented, and how these improvements will be secured. It sets out how the NHS will operate to secure the best use of resources and be redesigned around the needs of the patient. The changes outlined centre around:

  • increasing choice for patients;
  • introducing greater plurality of health service provision;
  • devolving power to frontline staff;
  • strengthening local accountability and changing the way in which money flows around the NHS.

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