NHS ‘must plan better’ to restore public trust

10 Sep 18

The NHS must establish realistic long-term targets in order to rebuild public trust in the health service, a trade association has said.

NHS Providers is urging health service chiefs to end a “debilitating cycle of missed performance and financial targets” as they prepare to set out their plans by autumn.

In a briefing published today, the organisation – which represents NHS hospital, mental health, community and ambulance services – acknowledged that trusts have treated more patients than ever before over the last four years.

But there has been a “sustained failure to meet key performance targets, significant financial deficits for providers and problems recruiting and retaining staff”, said NHS Providers.

The briefing sets out five tests for the long-term plan of the NHS which it says should:

  • be centred around patients, service users, carers and families;
  • be realistic and deliverable;
  • be underpinned by a credible and sustainable workforce strategy;
  • lay the groundwork for a sustainable high-performing service;
  • support local good governance, autonomy and accountability.

NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said: “No one is more ambitious for the NHS than frontline trusts and their staff who deliver care day in day out.

“But the plan must also reset what is asked of providers so that the vast majority of trusts, performing well, can return to being successful in delivering the care that patients and the public rightly expect.

“Assumptions about what can be achieved, and how quickly, must be realistic.”

NHS Providers’ briefing also said that the new plan will only work if the government plays its part by dealing decisively with the funding crisis in social care, and by investing in public health to ease preventable pressures on the NHS.

A recent survey found that 75% of adults in England think personal care for over 65s should be available to those who need it.

Hopson noted that challenges faced by the sector “should not be underestimated” and in 2017–18 the deficit in services that are represented by NHS Providers stood at nearly £1bn, while there was an 8% staff vacancy rate. 

Last week, a study found that one in four student nurses drop out of their studies before graduating.

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