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“NHS needs investment to modernise, not the disinvestment currently being imposed”

An RCP report was released this week suggesting the NHS is under-funded, under-doctored and over-stretched. Here’s the reaction: 

Dr Johnny Marshall, Director of Policy at the NHS Confederation

“We look forward to working with the RCP and welcome its strong focus on developing the workforce. Their report represents an important contribution to the debate on the future of the NHS.

“Further growth in the numbers of doctors is currently necessary but it will become unaffordable if allowed to continue indefinitely – putting healthcare at risk. It must go hand in glove with developing new roles, such as that of Physician Associates and developing new models of care that are more in-tune with patients’ needs, such as moving services from hospital settings to community settings.

“If the RCP could expand its focus in one area, we believe it could further encourage the expansion of community services and better coordination between GPs, pharmacists and other local care – making it more fully aligned with patients’ needs. We must move care and treatment closer to people’s homes.

“It is helpful that the RCP explores areas like Community Education Provider Networks, which can help lay the groundwork for future training and ways of working. It’s important that such initiatives aren’t slowed down by finite resources being used-up on existing services.

“We continue to urge all parts of the system, including local government and national bodies, to work hard to overcome barriers to necessary change.”

Paul Briddock, Director of Policy, Healthcare Financial Management Association

“HFMA supports much of today’s RCP report given the challenging state of NHS finances in the last few years and the additional pressures this brings to those working across the sector. Although the financial position in the first quarter of this financial year was better than planned, this was largely down to additional STF funding being used to plug provider deficits. Overall, the underlying financial position for the NHS still hasn’t much improved on last year.

“The report calls for an increase in NHS funding, however, given this may not be feasible, the dialogue needs to focus on what the NHS can and cannot afford to deliver. The NHS is currently living beyond its means, and we share the report’s sentiment that this cannot be sustained in the long term. Many efforts are being made across the service – with finance teams, clinicians and management working closely together – but these changes take time and need to be implemented correctly.

“Overspend on agency staff is still a major cause for concern and difficult to manage. Better resource planning and recruitment needs to take place in order to reduce the reliance on and premium paid for agency staff. It’s vital we move to a position of over supply not under supply of the NHS workforce to eliminate the agency spend cycle we are currently in.”

Nuffield Trust Director of Policy Candace Imison

“These are critical issues which cannot be ignored. Gaps in rotas and recruitment are making it increasingly difficult for trusts to provide services, and taking a toll on doctors. We have grave concerns about the implications for morale.”

“The NHS needs a sustainable funding settlement. Our work shows that under current plans, trusts are being asked to make savings over the next two years at a rate never before achieved – at a time when they are already visibly struggling after delivering efficiencies through years of financial pressure. We cannot carry on like this.“

“The potential impact of Brexit on recruitment, rightly highlighted here, risks adding yet another pressure to a seriously overburdened service.”

Professor Neena Modi, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

“This report is another stark reminder of the problems facing our health services.

“In paediatrics, more than one in four general paediatric posts at senior trainee level are vacant, and more than half of paediatric units are not meeting recommended staffing standards. This is placing such a strain on health services that around the country services for children are being withdrawn. And in parallel, cuts to public health services are disproportionately affecting children which is leading to even greater pressure on hospitals. Our trainees know how rewarding it is to care for children, and are prepared to devote their careers to the NHS, but they need to be valued and respected.

“The NHS has delivered effective, cost-efficient equitable care to everyone in the UK for six decades and has been the envy of the world. It requires investment to modernise and become even better, not the disinvestment that is currently being imposed that has been so damaging.”

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