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
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
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

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine