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NHS’ Historic 10-Year Plan Reduces Waiting Time To Access Mental Care Services

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The NHS' expanded 10-year plan will allow young and adult citizens to access mental care services with reduced waiting period. Apart from funding, critics said the agency is faced with a difficult task to prioritize specific areas of healthcare.  ( University of Texas at Austin )

The National Health Service (NHS) will soon allow young people and adults to have less waiting time to access mental care services as part of its 10-year health plan.

Data showed that one-sixth of people aged 16 years and below who suffer from a mental health problem have to wait an average of four hours. The number has increased threefold since 2014.

England’s 10-Year Health Plan

The expanded program aims to close in the gap between physical and mental health treatments. The NHS said the government will allocate an additional 2.3 billion pounds to subsidize counseling therapies for 350,000 young people and 380,000 adults in the course of five years.

“The launch of the NHS Long Term Plan marks an historic step to secure its future and offers a vision for the service for the next ten years, with a focus on ensuring that every pound is spent in a way that will most benefit patients,” said Primer Minister Theresa May.

England also plans on providing the best maternity care in the world. Parents of every baby will also receive better mental health support. To address expectations, the NHS is expanding its workforce by hiring tens of thousands of healthcare professionals.

Also included in the program are improvements in specific areas such as cancer, heart and lung diseases, autism, and learning disabilities. The plan is to prevent around 23,000 premature deaths and 50,000 hospital admissions in the next decade.

The NHS expects to source more funding to use through the second half of the implementation with more than 700 million pounds of back-office savings. The agency is also implementing new digital techniques that will help efficient spending of the fund.

Challenges Ahead

An analysis by The King’s Fund, an independent charity, noted that while funding has increased, the NHS needs to deal with difficult decisions on how healthcare is delivered.

“Ambition needs to be tempered with realism about the deep-seated difficulties facing the NHS and social care and the time needed to address them,” Chris Ham, former chief executive at the Fund, and Richard Murray, the current chief executive, wrote on the report.

The report noted that the NHS is struggling to meet the standards of care as indicated in its constitution. Statistics as of February 2016 showed that the number of patients on waiting lists of elective treatments is more than 4 million. Similarly, the standard that at least 92 percent of patients should begin treatment within 18 weeks of referral is not yet met.

Meanwhile, at least 85 percent of cancer patients were able to receive treatment within 62 days of referral on the third quarter of 2013 to 2014.

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