Patients cannot be assured that the NHS’s future is safeguarded by the new long-term plan, despite the Prime Minister’s claims on Sunday.

Rachel Power, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, said: “The long term plan has undoubted strengths. Its commitment to shifting the focus of NHS services much more into the community is exactly the right priority. Integration and prevention are essential focuses, and totally correct.

“So it’s highly unfortunate that failures outside the plan itself mean that on its own it cannot safeguard the future of the health and social care system.

“The Government still lacks any sort of strategy for health and wellbeing, and has not even published its green paper with proposals to end the ongoing social care crisis.

“Last year’s funding announcement promises another five years of below-trend growth for the NHS, on top of the eight it has just endured, and excluded key areas of expenditure.

“The serious and growing shortages in the health and care workforce are a major threat, and could even make the plan undeliverable. Proposals to solve this problem aren’t expected until around the middle of the year. Training and developing skilled staff cannot be done quickly, and it’s not clear whether the Government’s immigration proposals and our exit from the European Union will support recruitment from abroad.

“NHS England has done what was asked of it in terms of developing a coherent plan. The Government now needs to do its part, and get serious about addressing the substantial strategic problems that still pose major threats to the health and care system.”

For more on our response to the long term plan, read this blog post by our Chief Executive, Rachel Power.