OXFORDSHIRE health campaigners have criticised the NHS’ new long-term plan announced this week saying it ignored the ‘key issues’ affecting the county’s hospitals.

Health service bosses in England say the NHS 10-year plan could save up to 500,000 lives by focusing on prevention and early detection of illness.

It will see GPs, mental health and community care get the biggest funding increases as NHS leaders look to ease the pressure on hospitals.

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However Oxon Keep Our NHS Public secretary Bill MacKeith said: “In Oxfordshire we know our key health problem is staff - not enough of them, and not enough money to pay them properly - the ‘plan’ ignores this."

Mr MacKeith said years of real-term cuts during Government austerity had left the health service needing far more support than is offered in the new 10-year plan.


He said: “There is no plan to repair the damage done.

“Platitudes about prevention and better health are exposed by the £1bn cuts to the public health budget responsible for prevention.

“After nine years undermining mental health, the ‘extra’ now committed is not new money but comes from elsewhere within NHS funding.

“Over 210,000 vacancies in NHS and social care and unacceptable stress carried by staff, dangerous waits for A&E, cancer care and surgery, all tell the true story.”

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Local health watchdof Oxfordshire Health also said the recruitment and retention crisis faced by hospitals in the area would make delivering the plan difficult.

Chair of Healthwatch Oxfordshire professor George Smith, said: “The plan contains lots of aspirations which we welcome. However, we have major concerns about how it can be implemented.

“One is the  major issue of staff shortages, which will make delivering the plan challenging.

“Another is that this plan fails to grasp the nettle of the need  to integrate health and social care budgets.

"The pressures on local authority budgets are driving people to seek help and support from the acute health sector, which is far more expensive, and may be less appropriate for their needs. 

“For example, a key challenge is supporting people at home who may have complex needs. Home care provision needs to be expanded to include more people with professional nursing skills.”

Local NHS chiefs, meanwhile, welcomed the plan.

Bruno Holthof, chief executive of the trust which runs the John Radcliffe Hospital, said the long-term plan for the NHS was ‘good news for both patients and staff’, particularly welcoming the emphasis on using new technology to improve patient care.

Meanwhile Stuart Bell, head of the county's mental health board Oxford Health said the plan, which promises an additional £2.3bn worth of investment for mental health, supported his trust’s aims.

Louise Patten, head of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group which holds the purse strings for the county’s NHS health services, was cautious about praising the plan.

She said: “As a system we will be working together over the coming months to determine what the plan will mean for people in Oxfordshire, building on progress we have already made together, and in partnership with those who know the NHS best – staff and patients.”