Future standard of health and social care ‘precarious’

10 Oct 17

The future standard of care in the health and social sector is in a “precarious” position, according to the Care Quality Commission.

The watchdog said this was because of high demand, lack of access and cost pressures on the sectors, in its annual State of Care report out today.

“Future quality is precarious as the system struggles with increasingly complex demand, access and cost,” the document stated.

“With the complexity of demand increasing across all sectors, the entire health and social care system is at full stretch.”

People are waiting more than four hours in A&E, more planned operations are cancelled and people are waiting longer for treatments, the watchdog said.

The number of beds in nursing homes had decreased across most of England and domiciliary care contracts are being handed back to councils because providers say the funding is insufficient to meet people’s needs, the CQC warned.

Although, it also recognised the quality of care is currently being maintained despite “very real challenges”.

Its findings showed as of 31 July these services were rated good:

  • 78% of adult social care services - up from 71% at 31 July 2016
  • 55% of NHS acute hospital core services (2016: 51%)
  • 68% of NHS mental health core services (2016: 61%)
  • 89% of GP practices (2016: 83%)


David Behan, chief executive of CQC, noted that the CQC had already warned social care was “approaching tipping point’ due to failing bed numbers, market fragility, unmet need and local authority funding and quality.

Behan said: “The future of the social care system is one of the greatest unresolved public policy issues of our time – a long term sustainable solution is urgently required.”

“Staff and leaders can’t work any harder; the answer must be to work more collaboratively,” he explained.

Ruth Thorlby, assistant director of policy at the charity The Health Foundation, agreed: “We need an integrated, national approach to health and social care to address the concerns the report raises, to achieve better health and health care for everyone. 

“The good will and hard work of the NHS’s workforce will not alone solve the problems in the wider system that are resulting in poor care.”

Richard Murray, director of policy for The King’s Fund, said the government’s consultation on social care needed to set out costed options for putting social care on a sustainable footing for the future.

He added: “This will mean confronting hard choices about how to pay for this through a combination of private and public funding.”

Health minister Philip Dunne said: “With record funding and more doctors and nurses, the NHS was recently judged the best healthcare system in the world, despite the pressures from increasing demand.”

Dunne reminded the government promised an extra £2bn extra for social care in the Budget earlier this year.

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