New government sets out top health priorities

Following the general election, health secretary Matt Hancock has told the public what to expect from the new government.
Image of government Palace of Wesminster

The health secretary has set out four top priorities for the NHS, in a speech after the Conservatives won the general election.

Matt Hancock said he would use extra £33.9bn extra per year promised for the NHS, which will be enshrined in law, to invest in prevention, health service staff, technology and hospital buildings (see box).

The latter committment raises the prospect that the Royal Berkshire Hospital could win funding for a major upgrade, especially as Mr Hancock visited the site during the election campaign and announced initial 'seed funding' for the hospital to develop building plans.

Matt Hancock on his top four priorities for the NHS

  1. Buildings: "I’ve seen some places where the infrastructure is fantastic, but in others it’s crying out for an upgrade."
  2. Prevention: "I don’t believe in the worried well – I want healthy people to be concerned about their own health so they stay healthy."
  3. People: "Every student nurse will receive at least £5,000 extra a year from next September, with more financial support for childcare costs, or in regions or disciplines, such as mental health, where the need for nurses is more acute."
  4. Technology: "Better technology means a child getting immediate support through their smartphone while they wait for their first mental health appointment [or]...your elderly relative can live independently for longer thanks to wearables."

Mr Hancock also used his speech to re-state his party's manifesto pledges to bring in:

  • 40 new hospitals over the next decade
  • 50,000 more nurses
  • 6,000 more GPs
  • 6,000 more primary care professionals
  • and 50 million more GP appointments.

Local plans for the NHS in Reading are due to be published soon by the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care System (ICS). These plans were informed by a public survey carried out by local Healthwatch in spring 2019.

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