Almost half a million lives will be saved by the NHS’ Long Term Plan in the next 10 years, it’s been claimed, with practical action on major killer conditions and greater investment on the way.

As medicine advances, the NHS needs to develop a service in the next 10 years fit for the future, including cutting edge treatments such as genomic tests for every child with cancer. The blueprint Long Term Plan includes digital GP consultations for those who want them, as well as early detection and a renewed focus on prevention to stop an estimated 85,000 premature deaths each year.

There are also plans to prevent 150,000 heart attacks, strokes and dementia cases, while more than three million people will benefit from new and improved stroke, respiratory and cardiac services over the next decade. Improved neonatal care will benefit new babies and parents, while life-changing stroke therapy and integrated support will help keep older people out of hospital and living longer and more independent lives.

The NHS Long Term Plan is also the first time in the NHS’ 70-year history when there will be a new guarantee that investment in primary, community and mental health care will grow faster than the growing overall NHS budget.

The commitment to tackle major physical conditions comes alongside the biggest ever investment in mental health services, rising to at least £2.3 billion a year by 2023/24. Under the plan, around two million more people who suffer anxiety, depression or other problems will receive help over the next decade, including new dads as well as mums. There’ll also be 24-hour access to crisis care via NHS 111.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: “The NHS Long Term Plan… keeps all that’s good about our health service and its place in our national life. It tackles head-on the pressures our staff face and it sets a practical, costed, phased route map for the NHS’s priorities for care quality and outcomes improvement for the decade ahead.”

However, unions have warned that the plans are in doubt due to the NHS’ chronic staff shortages, while many experts have reacted with caution. Health charity the King’s Fund said there are ‘some significant pieces of the jigsaw are still missing… indicating that trade-offs and difficult choices lie ahead’, while the Patients’ Association said there was still no strategy to end the ongoing social care crisis.

Despite the ambitious plans, adequate private medical insurance (PMI) tailored to your lifestyle remains a reliable option for accessing the right treatment at the right time. Health insurance can help you bypass lengthy NHS queues and allow you to be seen in the hospital or centre of your choice, often with the consultant of your choosing.

PMI covers accidents and injuries as well as treatment for acute medical conditions, such as diagnostic tests and consultations. Depending on your policy, you may also be able to access drugs and treatment not available on the NHS.

Mental health cover is now also included under the vast majority of policies, either as standard or as an optional add-on. Some insurers cover you for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or counselling as standard, while stress, anxiety, depression and psychiatric cover can be included on many policies as an additional benefit.

Compare health insurance quotes online to find the best policy for you, and read some of our articles on making your fitness and mental wellbeing a priority in 2019.