NHS FDs believe patient care is deteriorating, King’s Fund finds

19 May 16

Nearly two-thirds of NHS trust finance directors and more than half of clinical commissioning groups finance leads think their local quality of patient care has deteriorated over the past year, according to the King’s Fund.

Findings from the think-tank’s latest quarterly monitoring report also reveal that more than 80% of trusts doubt they can meet NHS control totals for the current year.

Responses also showed that 70% of NHS providers ended 2015-16 in deficit, including 90% of acute trusts.

More than half of finance directors expected their trust to end this year in deficit once again. 

Detailed findings showed 38% of trusts and 61% of CCGs were concerned about meeting cost improvement targets in 2016-17, while 82% of trusts were unsure whether they could meet new control totals set by NHS regulators to reduce spending

Nearly 20% of CCGs expected to overspend their budgets this year.

The fund called the finding on perceptions of patient care quality to be the most worrying since it began asking this question in 2012.

Only 2% of trust finance directors and 12% of CCG finance leads felt that patient care had improved over the past year.

The report also found deteriorating performance over the year in several key areas.

These included that 8% of patients, equivalent to more than 1.85 million people, spent longer than four hours in accident and emergency departments, the worst performance since 2003-04.

The number of patients waiting for hospital treatment rose by 17% to 3.7 million, the highest number since 2007

King’s Fund chief economist John Appleby said: “2016/17 is 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.”

NHS Confederation acting chief executive Stephen Dalton said: “Today’s report outlines the alarming reality that ongoing financial strain on the NHS is impacting our members’ efforts to deliver high quality care. “

He added: “The underfunding of social care services continues to put immense pressure on NHS services and hamper efforts to improve care.”

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