The NHS Long Term Plan, 
A message from Glenn Douglas, Paul Carter and Alan Jarrett

Dear all,

You’ve almost certainly heard something about the NHS Long Term Plan, published on 7 January.

It sets out an exciting and inspiring vision for the future of healthcare during the next 10 years, so we wanted to share what this national milestone means for us and our population.

We’ve included some useful summaries of the plan at the end of this message.


While it’s a NHS plan, as leaders of health and social care across Kent and Medway, we welcome the unequivocal expectation for us to work together.

That’s why this letter is signed by all three of us as leaders of the health and social care system in Kent and Medway – demonstrating our commitment to working together.

We know to deliver our vision of quality of life, quality of care, we have to work together to give children and young people the best start in life, support people with long-term and complex needs, respond better to people in a mental health crisis, and support our population to age well – staying independent and connected to their community.

The Long Term Plan sets out a welcome and timely ambition for improved services for children and young people, people with mental health problems, and people with learning disabilities and autism. It also maintains the focus on the biggest killers – cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes.

There is an emphasis on prevention and addressing health inequalities, recognising the important role of the NHS alongside local authorities to deal with the challenges of smoking, obesity and alcohol.

The themes set out in the Long Term Plan are fundamental to our Kent and Medway Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP). It will become even more important as we move towards greater integration. The plan sets out an expectation that all STPs become integrated care systems by 2021. What does that mean? It means we will make more decisions collectively at a Kent and Medway level to strengthen and improve care for people and their families, through every stage of life.

This work is already happening. In December, more than 40 leaders came together to look at this with a real appetite and consensus on the way forward which paved the way for more work planned over the next three months. Supporting the system, will be a number of integrated care partnerships, where partner providers take joint responsibility for the care for everyone in their area.

There will be even more joined-up working at a local level, with GP practices working together with community and other services to provide tailored care through primary care networks. 

The priorities

There is a clear vision for how care needs to change and the priority areas for advances with a focus of delivering world-class care for major health problems. Areas of focus include:

  • giving everyone the best start in life through better maternity services and joining up services from birth to age 25, particularly improving care for children with long-term conditions like asthma, epilepsy and diabetes with better mental health support in schools and colleges
  • faster and better diagnosis, treatment and care for the most common killers, including cancer, heart disease, stroke and lung disease, improving survival rates
  • supporting families and individuals with mental health problems, making it easier to access talking therapies and transforming how the NHS responds to people experiencing a mental health crisis
  • faster and appropriate care in the community and in care homes to prevent avoidable admissions for frail and older people.

… and we’re working on it

We are pleased to say the Long Term Plan endorses our direction of travel and is consistent with our current strategies and priorities. To name just a few:

  • our review of stroke services to bring urgent and emergency stroke care up to national best practice standards through hyper-acute stroke units and provide higher standards of rehabilitation closer to home, saving lives and reducing disability
  • the transformation programme in east Kent that is already seeing initiatives to improve the way people receive care outside hospital and is also looking at how we can better deliver emergency care, inpatient care and specialist care – recognising the role that networked hospital services can play to make sure everyone can access care that consistently meets national guidelines
  • working with the Kent and Medway Cancer Alliance to agree a new joint plan for cancer services so we can transform diagnosis, treatment and care for people living with and beyond cancer
  • the creation of Kent’s first specialist mother and baby unit dedicated to perinatal mental health, which opened last summer
  • a review of pathology services to improve the quality and efficiency of this important branch of medical science

our work on local care and primary care which is critical to the development of primary care networks. Our GPs have already started working together to offer a wider range of services and better access to primary care, and more is planned. Multi-disciplinary teams are a central part of the new service model – GPs leading teams working with a range of staff across health and social care such as pharmacists, district nurses, community geriatricians, dementia workers, physiotherapists and occupational therapists, podiatrists and chiropodists and the voluntary sector.

Backing our workforce, bringing the NHS into the digital age and spending extra investment wisely

The plan covers how the NHS will develop, support and recruit the workforce we need and better support our hardworking and dedicated colleagues.

We are working hard to develop Kent and Medway-wide strategies on workforce and the new Kent and Medway medical school will be key; offering 100 new undergraduate places each year from 2020. We are excited about the opportunity this brings to develop, recruit and retain the next generation of doctors and health professionals in our region. A range of care workers will be in new innovative roles with new career opportunities. For 5 years, men with mild and moderate degree of baldness have participated in various studies. When summing up, it became clear that two of three men who took 1 mg of Finasteride per day noticed the growth of the new hair. And, conversely, all men who didn’t take Finasteride observed hair loss. In the course of the same study (based on photos considered by an independent group of dermatologists), it was determined that 48% of patients who took Finasteride 5 mg, noticed a visible hair growth, while another 42% stopped to lose hair. The average amount of hair in the treatment group remained above the baseline.

The plan focuses on developing our use of digital technology, with new digital GP services and we are ploughing ahead with the development and introduction of a Kent and Medway Care Record, ensuring all systems can ‘talk to each other’ to improve the care people receive.

There is also a focus on how we will make the best use of the £20.5billion of taxpayers’ investment in the NHS. The plan commits to an increase in NHS funding, with an overall increase averaging 3.4 per cent a year over the next five years until 2023/24.

We are pleased to see the spending commitment on primary medical and community health services will be at least £4.5billion higher in five years’ time, and that spending on children and young people’s mental health services will grow faster than both overall NHS funding and total mental health spending.

We are also working hard to make sure productivity is maximised across our different organisations. We continue to identify and exploit opportunities to reduce waste and inefficiency. We are doing this across our hospitals, for example, by working together on recruitment and on reducing agency staffing costs and in procuring goods and supplies together, allowing us to negotiate better prices at scale.

All of this is consistent with what we are working on in Kent and Medway, and will support our STP to deliver better care for local people.


Next steps and involving you

It’s our job to translate this national plan into a local one, working with our partners to decide what this means for the care we deliver. By autumn, the NHS in Kent and Medway will publish a local plan for the next five years. We need to be bold and brave as we set out how we intend to turn the ambitions of the Long Term Plan into a reality for our communities.  

This means, over the next few months, whether you are NHS staff, a patient or a member of the public, you will have the opportunity to help shape what the plan means for your area.

Some areas we will take action on include:

  • reducing how long children wait for assessments
  • reducing the number of people dying early from cancer and heart disease
  • reducing the number of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes
  • reducing death among people with mental health problems, learning disabilities or autism
  • reducing falls and unnecessary A&E attendances for older people
  • improving access to GP services and out-of-hours support.

Please look out for opportunities to give your views on this – everything will be publicised at and check out 

We look to our colleagues, patients, carers, local people and communities to come with us on this journey. Put simply, it is now or never to transform health and social care services in Kent and Medway in a way that means we do the best for our children, to live fulfilling lives, and to age well.

Let’s do our best for everyone.


Yours faithfully

Glenn Douglas, Chief Executive of Kent and Medway Sustainability and Transformation Partnership and Accountable Officer of the eight Kent and Medway clinical commissioning groups
Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council
Alan Jarrett, Leader of Medway Council

More about the NHS Long Term Plan:
The full document
NHS England’s summary
NHS Providers’ briefing
NHS Clinical Commissioners briefing
NHS Confederation briefing (documents, videos and case studies).