The NHS Long Term Plan will see a ‘complete reset’ early this year, the health secretary has said.
In a meeting with MPs last night (25 January), Sajid Javid said the refreshed plan will have a focus on mental health, and particularly issues facing young people.
The previous iteration of the plan – the version currently in use – came in 2019, a year before the Covid-19 pandemic began.
In that time, it is estimated that 1.5 million young people may need new or additional mental health support due to the pandemic
Estimates suggest that up to 730,000 additional referrals for mental health services could be made each year up to 2024, placing ‘significant additional pressure on general practice’.
‘Complete reset’ due
Addressing the Health and Social Care Committee, Mr Javid said mental health is a significant non-Covid challenge associated with the pandemic.
This is ‘especially’ the case among ‘young people and teenagers in particular’, he added, noting that ‘that is why we are working on a refreshed mental health plan’.
He said that the last plan under ‘the Long Term Plan for the NHS was pre-Covid and I’m working with the NHS on a complete reset of that plan’.
The plan’s funding commitment to keep increasing NHS spending year-by-year will remain in place, he said.
‘But when we set out our reset of the Long Term Plan, which will be early this year, it will include a focus on mental health but in particular for younger people.’
NHS England and DHSC both told Management in Practice they had nothing else to add at this stage.
Last month, a Government inquiry into children’s mental health found that inadequate early intervention creates ‘unnecessary pressure’ across the NHS, including in GP practices.
What are the longer-term plans to improve mental health support for teenagers?
Sajid Javid: You would have heard me earlier refer to some of the non-Covid challenges of the pandemic and sadly mental health is one of them, especially amongst young people and teenagers in particular.
And that is why we are working on a refreshed mental health plan because the last one, the Long Term Plan for the NHS was pre-Covid and I’m working with the NHS on a complete reset of that plan, and the funding commitment we made in the Long Term Plan is still there to keep increasing NHS spending year-by-year. There was the extra funding support we got over the pandemic as well.
But when we set out our reset of the Long Term Plan, which will be early this year, it will include a focus on mental health but in particular for younger people.