This week, the NHS released a long-term plan setting out its priorities for the service over the next ten years. This followed the government’s announcement to increase NHS funding by £20 billion a year by 2023.
Our Policy and Public Affairs Officer, Bradley Price, explains everything you need to know about how the plan will affect stem cell transplant patients.
On 7 January 2019, the NHS announced their Long Term Plan and you may have seen lots of headlines which won’t directly affect someone who needs a stem cell transplant. We’ve taken a close look at the plan to highlight other areas which secure the long-term improvements and outcomes for transplant patients.
How it will affect cancer treatment
The plan looks to ensure that everyone diagnosed with cancer should have personalised care in place by 2021. This includes a needs assessment, care plan, as well as health and wellbeing information and support. The personalised care does not stop there, as it also looks to move patients to a follow-up pathway that suits their needs and ensures they can get rapid access to support when needed.
The plan also pledges to speed up the time it takes for new treatments to be developed and in use on the NHS. There was a good example of this last year, with the NHS being the first health service in Europe to supply a certain type of CAR-T-cell therapy for children with cancer.
Starting this year, the NHS will also offer full genome sequencing for all children with cancer. Some new treatments have been found to work better for people with certain genetic codes, so this new sequencing will allow clinicians to know more about each condition and potentially find the most effective treatment for each individual. This is particularly relevant for stem cell transplant patients, as blood cancer is the most common type of cancer for children.
The plan also commits to inviting children, teenagers and young adults to participate in more clinical trials (and looks to increase the number of people registering to participate in health research to one million by 2023/24). With more people taking part in research, patients can benefit more from them in the future.
How it will affect mental health and wellbeing support
Patients often tell us that a stem cell transplant can have an effect on their mental health, and that not all who need help can access it. The plan confirms spending increases for mental health – with help being provided to an additional 345,000 children and young people by 2023/24, and 370,000 people with severe mental illness (long-term conditions) given more control over their care in the same timeframe.
Improving joined-up care
For those with long-term health conditions, the Long Term Plan commits to more ‘joined-up care’. Stem cell transplant patients can have appointments to see many different medical professionals, but it is unlikely that these experts will all have access to the patient’s medical records, leaving the patient to try and recount their entire treatment history. However, the plan will look to ensure that doctors and other health professionals can access and interact with patient records and care plans wherever they are.
What happens next?
Local NHS organisations, who have control over local implementation of the plan, will be working with their local councils to develop plans for the next five years. These individual strategies will set out how they will realise the ambitions from the NHS Long Term Plan to improve the health of their local communities and the services on offer.
At Anthony Nolan, our Policy and Public Affairs team will monitor the implementation of the plan, and continue to work with Ministers, the government, and MPs from all sides to ensure that stem cell transplant patients have access to the best possible services and treatments.
If you or someone close to you is going through a stem cell transplant and would like more support, our Patient Services team are here to help. Find out more at anthonynolan.org/Patients To find out more about the NHS Long Term Plan, visit england.nhs.uk/long-term-plan