Majority of NHS trusts report declining care standards

53 per cent of NHS trust finance directors believe quality of care in their local areas has declined in the last year, according to new figures


53 per cent of NHS trust finance directors report that the quality of care in their local areas has declined in the last year, with 2016 set to be a ‘make or break year’ for the service.

New figures from the King’s Trust, a leading healthcare thinktank, bear out the claims that doctors and nurses have repeated throughout their industrial disputes with the current government: that patient safety and top-quality care cannot be guaranteed on a shoestring.

This is the eighteenth Quarterly Monitoring Report produced by the King’s Trust, and the first in which a majority of respondents have reported declining standards of care, particularly in relation to waiting times. One respondent suggests that a tipping point has been reached, with services no longer able to ameliorate the effects of deepening financial shortages.

“This time last year my view would have been that the financial pressures were not making the quality of care worse. This has, however, changed. The deepening deficits in the hospitals and the severe cuts to adult social care are now worsening the care that the system can provide.”

King’s Trust predicts that the planning guidance overspend cap of £1.8bn is unrealistic, and projects an overall deficit of £2.3bn by March 2016. 67 per cent of responding trusts expect to overspend, rising to 89 percent among acute trusts.

While the report does not deal directly with the controversy over the junior doctors strike, it does address anxieties over the cap on agency staff spending, introduced to help meet cost improvement programme (CIP) targets. 53 per cent of trust directors are very or fairly concerned that they will not be able to contain their agency spending, a problem that can only be exacerbated by the departure of junior doctors from NHS England.  

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