Biggest NHS shake-up in more than a decade

The NHS will be ordered to focus on changing patients’ lifestyles as well as treating illnesses under new Government plans.

Ministers are concerned about rising levels of disease linked to poor diet and lack of exercise, such as Type 2 diabetes and obesity, a leaked document shows.

It acknowledges smoking rates have fallen in recent years but warns the UK’s growing and ageing population is suffering from more long-term conditions.

The NHS will be ordered to focus on changing patients' lifestyles as well as treating illnesses under new Government plans

The NHS will be ordered to focus on changing patients' lifestyles as well as treating illnesses under new Government plans

The NHS will be ordered to focus on changing patients’ lifestyles as well as treating illnesses under new Government plans

Health chiefs will be tasked with not only treating diseases such as cancer, but also helping to prevent them by encouraging people to become more active.

It will be complemented with separate measures to restrict junk food advertising and putting calorie labels on alcohol.

The white paper says the health and care system must continue to ‘adapt and evolve’ to meet the challenges of modern life, including Covid-19.

It reveals local NHS services will be ordered to work more closely with councils to better join up health and social care, as they have during the pandemic.

The document says: ‘One in three patients admitted to hospital as an emergency has five or more health conditions, up from one in ten a decade ago.

‘While smoking rates may be decreasing, diabetes, obesity, dementia and mental health issues are on the rise.’

It calls for care that ‘focuses not just on treating particular conditions, but also on lifestyles, on healthy behaviours and prevention’.

New legislation will scrap red tape surrounding repeated tendering for contracts, so more time and money can be redirected to frontline services.

It will return some powers from Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, to Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary.

The document says: ‘A merged NHS England and NHS Improvement will be placed on a statutory footing and will be designated as NHS England.

‘This will be accompanied by enhanced powers of direction for the Government over the newly merged body.’

It will return some powers from Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, to Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary

It will return some powers from Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, to Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary

It will return some powers from Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, to Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary

The paper, leaked to Health Policy Insight, says the Covid pandemic has demonstrated why better links between health and care are ‘essential’.

It adds: ‘Our proposals will make permanent some of the innovations where Covid-19 has forced the system to improvise new and better ways of working.

‘Bureaucracy has a role to play but it should not stifle innovation. We will put pragmatism at the heart of the system.’

The Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘We do not comment on leaks. We are rightly considering where changes need to be made to help us build back better. Full details will be set out in due course.’

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