The NHS will invest up to an extra £30m in meeting the health needs of people who are homeless, according to the long-term plan.
The plan, which was published today, says half of people sleeping rough have mental health needs, but many parts of the country do not have the appropriate support available.
The extra funds will go towards improving access to specialist NHS mental health services.
In June Prime Minster Theresa May announced that the NHS will receive an additional £20.5bn a year by 2023/24.
The long term plan, for the first time, commits to diverting a third of this money away from secondary care, with GPs and community care due to get a £4.5bn funding boost, and £2.3bn going to mental health.
More money for deprived areas
In addition to the investment in homelessness support, the plan states that NHS England will continue to target a higher share of funding towards areas with high health inequalities.
This includes introducing, from April, a more accurate needs assessment for community and mental health services within the five-year allocations for CCGs.
The NHS will also ensure that the formula used to calculate these allocations is ‘more responsive’ to the unmet need in some of the most deprived areas of the country.
More rigorous monitoring of progress
All local health systems will be expected to set out a clear plan for how they intend to reduce health inequalities by 2023-24 and 2028-29 respectively, the long-term plan states.
For the first time, CCGs that benefit from funding specifically for tackling health inequality will also have to detail who they are using it to improve access and outcomes.
All CCGs will also be expected to ensure that screening and vaccination programmes are designed to support a reduction in health inequalities, the plan says.
Physical health checks
The long-term plan also promises to ensure that by 2020-21, at least 280,000 people living with severe mental health problems have their physical health needs met.
Currently, people with severe mental illnesses are at substantially higher risk of long-term conditions like diabetes and make more use of urgent and emergency care, the plan highlights.
By 2023-24, the NHS aims to further increase the number of people having physical health checks to an extra 110,000 per year, bringing the total to 390,000.
Better progress on learning disability care
The plan also pledges to do more to improve care in the community and provide more timely support for people with a learning disability, autism or both – many of whom experience poor healthcare despite suffering greater ill-health.
This will include investing in making eyesight, hearing and dental services more accessible to children with disabilities.
The Learning Disability Mortality Review Programme (LeDeR) will also be accelerated to ‘identify common themes and provide targeted support to local areas’, the plan says.
Other initiatives set out in the plan and designed to tackle health inequalities include:
- Investing in specialist NHS clinics to help people with serious gambling problems.
- Continuing to identify and support carers, especially those from vulnerable communities.
- Implementing an enhanced continuity of care model in maternity services for vulnerable mothers, and offer women who smoke during pregnancy specialist support to quit.