Ailing health service is 'held together by sticking plasters' says NHS leader

 

The NHS is being held together by “sticking plasters” that “will only last so long”, the head of the NHS Confederation has warned.

And a survey of health leaders reveals that one in five believes the financial pressures on the health service are worse than they have ever been.

With health service budgets under intense pressure to meet Government savings targets of £20bn by 2015, 50 per cent of NHS chief executives and chairs said that financial restraints had affected waiting times and access to care in their organisation, and the vast majority expected budget pressures to get even worse in the coming year. Mike Farrar, chief  executive of the NHS Confederation, said that financial pressures were “very worrying” and that a “culture change” was needed if  the health service is to remain “fit for the future”.

“In the short term the NHS is holding together,” he said, ahead of the Confederation’s annual conference in Liverpool this week. “But the sticking plasters on the creaking parts of the system will only last so long. We are already seeing the pressures on our A&Es bubbling over. Change is absolutely necessary if the NHS is to remain fit for the future – the risks of not doing so are too great to ignore.”

The NHS Confederation represents all the organisations that commission and provide NHS services.

The survey of health leaders found two-thirds agreed a culture change was needed. Mr Farrar said that the Francis Report, which revealed widespread failings at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, had been “a wake-up call” about need for reform.

However, consensus behind reform has been undermined by ever-increasing pressures on NHS budgets. Two-thirds of health leaders said that the financial pressures were serious, although three-quarters said they were confident they could meet their savings targets for the coming year.

Faced with financial restraints and pressure to reform, the health service is also struggling to deliver the Government’s vision of a “joined up” health service, in which the NHS and the social care system work more closely together to meet the escalating care needs of an ageing population.

Ninety-three per cent of NHS chiefs said that only “slight progress” or “no progress” was being made to “integrate care”. Nearly two-thirds said that failure in this area would “lead to services becoming unsustainable”.

Health minister Lord Howe said that although the Government accepted the NHS was “facing  pressures”, overall it was in “good  financial health.”

“We have protected the NHS budget, and funding will increase by £12.7bn over the course of this Parliament,” he said, adding that waiting times remained low and satisfaction with the health service was high. He said that a post-Francis Report culture change was vital and that health leaders must do “everything they can to create the open, caring and compassionate service we want to see.”

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said that the survey reflected “profound anxieties felt throughout the system about the current financial pressures”. He added that integrating care should be a priority “to meet the demands of an ageing population with increasingly complex conditions”.

The bleak assessment of the NHS comes as it emerged yesterday that 220 operations a day were cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice in the first quarter of 2013, as hospitals become increasingly overstretched.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager-Alcohol-OTE £90,000

    £25000 - £50000 per annum + £50,000 OTE + Car, Mobile, Benefits: h2 Recruit Lt...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £23200 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

    Austen Lloyd: Company Secretary

    Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: EAST ANGLIA - SENIOR SOLICITOR LEVEL ROLE** -...

    Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Consultant - Helpdesk

    £16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continuing expansion, a ...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game