A new report from The King’s Fund suggests that around two-thirds of NHS trust finance directors, and more than half of the finance leads in Clinical Commissioning Groups, believe that the quality of care has deteriorated in their particular region over the last 12 months.
65% of trust finance directors and 54% of CCG finance leads believe that patient care has diminished in quality in the last year.
The influential think tank based its findings on a survey of 241 trust finance directors and 149 CCG finance leads.
It concluded that the results were “the most worrying” since it began monitoring this issue in 2012.
“The report underlines the increasing strain the NHS is under as it struggles to manage increasing pressure on services within constrained resources,” a spokesperson asserted.
In addition to the weight of individuals who believe that patient care has declined, only a trivial number of respondents were able to assert that it had significantly improved.
Only 2% of trust finance directors and 12% of CCG finance leads believed that patient care had improved according to the King’s Fund’s Quarterly Monitoring report.
There are a wide variety of areas in the NHS causing concern according to this report, with Accident and Emergency, hospital waiting times and hospital delays all exhibiting deteriorating conditions.
In addition to observing deteriorating care, nearly 25% of all Clinical Commissioning Groups expect to overspend their budgets this year.
It seems that this is a clear indication that financial pressures are bearing down on commissioners in the health service as well as providers.
Despite over £8 billion of new funding delivered by the Conservative government, and a a £1.8 billion funding boost designed to support NHS providers in reducing deficits and improving services, 61% of Clinical Commissioning Groups believe that it will be challenging for them to meet cost improvement targets in the forthcoming financial year.
Commenting on the issue, John Appleby, chief economist at The King’s Fund, outlined that the existing climate in the NHS is not exactly encouraging, and is set to get more difficult for health service managers in the future.
“2015/16 was a very difficult year for the NHS, reflected in huge deficits and worsening performance. Next year will be a watershed year for the NHS in which it has been tasked with eradicating deficits and improving performance. Despite significant additional funding and a huge effort to contain deficits, it is clear that this is going to be a Herculean challenge.”
General Practitioners Committee lead Dr Richard Vautrey indicated that the results will come as absolutely no surprise to professionals working within the healthcare system, and suggested that only radical and adequately targeted action from the government could possibly make any difference to the prevailing situation.
“It should be no surprise to anyone that NHS performance is going backwards not forwards when the system is under massive and growing financial pressure at the same time as demand continues to rise. The Government must listen and not only commit to invest to funding the NHS to levels comparable with other EU countries, but also stop promoting populist policies such as seven-day working that have little if any clinical evidence to support their implementation.”
NHS trusts recently announced a deficit in excess of £2.3 billion for the most recent financial year.