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Fallout from no-new-NHS-money budget builds

Quality of care under serious threat, warn leaders

Adrian O'Dowd

Friday, 25 November 2016

The quality of care that the NHS can provide is likely to fall with potentially dire consequences following the Chancellor Philip Hammond’s decision not to invest more money into the NHS and social care, according to NHS leaders.

The fallout from this week’s autumn statement has continued with almost universal condemnation of the lack of any mention of additional funding for health or social care in the statement.

Serious consequences are likely from the decision to ignore many repeated warnings in the run up to the budget that the NHS and social care were in a perilous state and in need of additional resources, according to NHS Providers, the body that represents NHS organisations.

NHS Providers submitted six key recommendations as part of its submission to the Treasury ahead of the autumn statement including:

  • tackle the delayed transfer of care through greater support for adult social care
  • support primary care and collaborative budget decisions

NHS Providers said it had called repeatedly, along with other leading healthcare organisations, for the government to make social care and general practice a priority for any additional funding as well as bringing forward investment from the Better Care Fund to help relieve pressure on hospital services.

Although the chancellor had reiterated that the NHS would be receiving £10 billion extra by 2020-21, he did not confirm that health was one of the public services whose budget would be protected in the next spending review, warned NHS Providers’ chief executive Chris Hopson.

Mr Hopson said: “NHS trusts are working flat out, treating more patients than ever before, but they are experiencing record levels of demand because of the pressures in social care and general practice. That’s why we, along with the rest of the health and care sector, called for extra funding for social care as the priority.

“Trusts will continue to provide the best patient care they can but there is now a clear gap between what the NHS is being asked to deliver and the funding available. We need a realistic, agreed, plan on how we will close this gap.

“We’re already seeing key waiting times being missed. The CQC has also said there is already some deterioration in quality of care. Our worry is that this will get worse.”

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine warned that lives could be put at risk because of the government’s decision.

A college spokesman said: “We, along with other parties, have repeatedly highlighted the need for extra funding for social care – in addition to better funding for emergency medicine – in order to tackle the growing pressures on staff in emergency departments (EDs). This has been ignored.

“Offering only rhetoric instead of appropriate funding will do nothing to fix the problems facing emergency departments – or social care – this winter, and will be scant consolation for the families of patients whose lives are being put at risk.”

Former health secretary Andrew Lansley said on the BBC Radio 4 programme the World at One yesterday that he was unsurprised at the decision not to invest more into the NHS at this stage.

However, he added: “Not being surprised doesn't mean I wasn't disappointed. The next two years are going to be incredibly difficult.”

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