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In a desperate attempt to save money, officials announced they hope to slash a third of ‘face-to-face’ appointments – around 30million visits

30million NHS consultations could be conducted through Skype-style videos


Millions of NHS appointments could be conducted through Skype-style calls in the next five years, the 10-year plan for the health service revealed today.

In a desperate attempt to save money, officials announced they hope to slash a third of ‘face-to-face’ outpatient appointments in hospitals.

And the 136-page plan revealed that ‘every patient will have the right to online digital GP consultations’ within the next five years.

The plan, unveiled by Theresa May during a visit to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, spoke of how ‘digital appointments’ are already helping patients.

The full document added that this is ‘better for patients’ and allows the capacity of stretched outpatient clinics to be used more efficiently. 

In a desperate attempt to save money, officials announced they hope to slash a third of ‘face-to-face’ appointments – around 30million visits

In a desperate attempt to save money, officials announced they hope to slash a third of ‘face-to-face’ appointments – around 30million visits

The full plan spoke of how the ‘traditional’ model of outpatient appointments in hospitals are ‘outdated’ and ‘unsustainable’.

It says NHS services will be resigned to cut back on around 30million outpatient visits each year, saving patients time and ‘inconvenience’.

The report added that this could free up an extra £1.1billion each year, which could then be re-routed into other struggling areas. 

Among the other highlights of the plan are exercise and healthy living programmes for 100,000 people a year and interventions for drinkers.

Today’s announcement was expected to include a chapter on tackling the staff crisis but that section has reportedly been delayed until later in the year.

Mrs May commissioned the long-term plan last year after she pledged to spend an extra £20.5billion per year on the NHS.

Prime Minister Theresa May announced the launch of the NHS's 10-year plan at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool this afternoon, where she said not sending 'vast annual sums to Brussels' would help to finance the NHS of the future (pictured, Mrs May with NHS staff, Health Secretary Matt Hancock (left) and NHS chief executive Simon Stevens)

Prime Minister Theresa May announced the launch of the NHS's 10-year plan at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool this afternoon, where she said not sending 'vast annual sums to Brussels' would help to finance the NHS of the future (pictured, Mrs May with NHS staff, Health Secretary Matt Hancock (left) and NHS chief executive Simon Stevens)

Prime Minister Theresa May announced the launch of the NHS’s 10-year plan at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool this afternoon, where she said not sending ‘vast annual sums to Brussels’ would help to finance the NHS of the future (pictured, Mrs May with NHS staff, Health Secretary Matt Hancock (left) and NHS chief executive Simon Stevens)

The funding boost promised will increase the NHS’s budget from around £115billion per year to £135billion by 2023/24.

The full plan was due to have been published in December – but faced a delay because of work on Brexit.

Mrs May used her speech to say she was pleased to see her six priorities for the health service were reflected in the plan drawn up by health chiefs.

These included reducing variation across NHS organisations so ‘world class care’ reaches all patients; better support and recognition for staff, the ‘lifeblood’ of the service; greater use of technology; and more mental health support than ever.

By 2029, the NHS hopes changes made as a result of today’s plan will mean 85,000 fewer people die each year from preventable causes.

Illnesses in the firing line include childhood cancers, top killers heart disease and dementia, and public health nuisances alcohol and tobacco.

Each year DNA sequencing will be offered to around 1,800 children with cancer or rare genetic conditions to develop more personalised medicines.

Doctors will also carry out testing to identify patients with dangerously high levels of cholesterol caused by genetics.

And the latest artificial intelligence technology will be brought in to better diagnose when patients have suffered a stroke – to ensure they get the right treatment quickly.

Mrs May said in her speech spending more money on mental health care to put it on a par with physical health was one of her six top priorities – the plan shows an extra £2.3bn a year will be spend on people's mental health

Mrs May said in her speech spending more money on mental health care to put it on a par with physical health was one of her six top priorities – the plan shows an extra £2.3bn a year will be spend on people's mental health

Mrs May said in her speech spending more money on mental health care to put it on a par with physical health was one of her six top priorities – the plan shows an extra £2.3bn a year will be spend on people’s mental health

Mrs May met staff and patients at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, where she spoke at midday to announce the official plan for 'the NHS of the future'

Mrs May met staff and patients at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, where she spoke at midday to announce the official plan for 'the NHS of the future'

Mrs May met staff and patients at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, where she spoke at midday to announce the official plan for ‘the NHS of the future’

At the same time, digital GP consultations – on smartphones or tablets – will be made available to everyone who wants them as officials try to slash long waits for appointments.

Preventing ill health in the first place will also be key to reducing pressures on the NHS, leaders say, with patients encouraged to adopt healthier lifestyles.

Exercise and healthy living programmes will be rolled out to 100,000 people with heart complaints, potentially saving 23,000 people from dying prematurely.

Hospital staff will be told to target problem drinkers, offer counselling to patients who are smokers and encourage those at risk of type 2 diabetes to take preventative action.

Health bosses also want to diagnose three quarters of all cancers in the early stages when they will still respond well to treatment – the figure is currently 50 per cent.

Britain’s survival rates for cancer are among the worst in Europe, with late diagnosis needlessly costing thousands of lives a year.  

HOW WILL THE PLAN SAVE LIVES? THE AMBITIONS IN NUMBERS 

The NHS and Government say their new 10-year plan will save up to 500,000 extra lives over the next decade.

This is how they hope to do it: 

  • Using more high-tech treatments and diagnostic testing, including computers with artificial intelligence, to prevent 150,000 heart attacks, strokes and dementia cases
  • Putting 100,000 people with heart complaints through healthy living and exercise programmes every year, with a view to preventing 23,000 premature deaths 
  • Improving diagnosis to catch 75 per cent of all cancer cases ‘early’ while they’ll still respond well to treatment – the figure is currently 50 per cent
  • DNA testing for around 30,000 people who have dangerously high cholesterol due to genetic causes
  • Investing an extra £4.5bn a year in primary and community care, reducing pressure on hospitals
  • Investing an extra £2.3bn a year in mental health services and giving help to an two million more people suffering from anxiety, depression and other mental health problems



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