One in three NHS finance directors believes patient care has worsened since last year, according to a new report from the King’s Fund.
The health thinktank’s survey showed that 16 out of 48 finance directors in England said care has got worse, double the number from last year.
NHS leaders ‘concerned’
“Despite huge efforts to maintain standards of care and finances, NHS leaders are increasingly concerned about the pressures mounting on their organisations and the knock on impact of reductions in funding for local government services,” said Mike Farrar, NHS Confederation chief executive.
According to the report released today (14 February 2013), more than 75% of finance directors surveyed expect to have enough money to last the year, with just three anticipating a deficit.
King’s Fund chief economist Professor John Appleby said the NHS is under “unprecedented financial pressures”, which may increase worries over patient care.
Professor Appleby said: “For social care, it will be increasingly difficult for councils to make further savings without directly cutting services or affecting quality.
“Health and care services have coped well until now, but it is clear that many organisations expect things to become much more difficult over the coming year.”
Directors of adult social services were included in the King’s Fund report for the first time this year.
The report shows they are also pessimistic about the coming financial year, with more than a third anticipating they will have to reduce services and 20% expecting to increase charges.
Close to 75% of adult services directors are pessimistic about the overall state of the local health and care economy over the next 12 months, with only 3 reporting optimism.
NHS Confederation head Mike Farrar believes that post-Francis report the NHS should maintain the focus on patients.
“We need to look beyond short term solutions that balance the books and examine how we can transform the way we deliver care so that it provides the best outcomes for people, in a way that is fully sustainable in the long term.”
Farrar warned that the NHS will “continue to battle” with financial pressures unless the NHS becomes more sustainable, producing “whole-system solutions”.