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Most health leaders doubt NHS efficiencies possible

GPs and managers sceptical over NHS funding

Adrian O'Dowd

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Three quarters of health and social care leaders including GPs are not convinced that the NHS will be able to make the efficiency savings expected of it over the next five years, concludes a survey published today.

The results of the latest survey of 100 senior figures carried out by health think tank the Nuffield Trust showed much scepticism over adequate NHS funding after the general election in May and whether or not efficiencies could be achieved.

The Nuffield Trust surveyed a panel of 100 senior figures for the fourth and final time ahead of the UK general election as part of its Health Leaders’ Panel initiative.

In total, 66 of the panellists responded and of those, 28 were senior NHS managers, 20 were clinicians or clinical leaders (including nine from CCGs), 10 were from local Healthwatch bodies and six were from the social care sector.

Their responses showed that three quarters believed finding enough money for care services would be one of the greatest challenges for the next government.

A similar proportion was not confident that the NHS would be able to meet its goal of £22 billion efficiency savings over the period of the next Parliament, as set out in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View.

There was also greater concern than ever about the quality of social care – of the 66 leaders who responded, the vast majority (85%) said standards had worsened over the last year.

Despite doubts about the ability of the NHS to meet its efficiency objectives, leaders believed most of the new models of care described in the Five Year Forward View would improve efficiency and quality.

Panellists also expected to see more use of volunteers in the NHS and social care, as proposed in the Forward View. Many (82%) expected them to play a greater role in their own organisations, although only 41% thought the voluntary sector was well equipped to perform a wider role within the NHS.

Helen Crump, fellow in health policy at the Nuffield Trust, said: “Leaders in health and social care are clear that the next five years will see financial pressure continue to dominate the agenda, but our panel is not confident about the NHS’s ability to meet its tough goals for savings.

“Nevertheless, there is support for many of the new care models set out in the forward view as ways of improving quality and efficiency.

“The forward view lays out a greater role for volunteers, and leaders expect this to become a reality in their organisations by 2020. But our survey also shows they are not convinced that all parts of the voluntary sector are equipped for this yet.”

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