Climate is ripe for a perfect storm in the NHS

In our response to the NHS ‘listening exercise’, the HCSA warned that the climate is ripe for a perfect storm.

It is all very well reforming the NHS – most commentators agree that reform is necessary – but even the most ardent supporter of the government’s plans must surely see that today’s problems must take priority over tomorrow’s NHS.

Like the tragedy in Staffordshire, the NHS is in real danger of losing sight of the ball. The experiences reported about the financial crisis in Leicester are not unique.

Many trusts are openly saying that they can’t pay the bills and are resorting to draconian measures to balance the books. At the same time NHS staff remain under a pay freeze, redundancies are becoming the norm and staff are being asked to accept higher pension contributions in return for a lower pension income. Morale is low; and goodwill rapidly destroyed as the NHS is forced to manage a financial crisis not of the staff’s making.

Where does patient care stand in this mess? Many treatments are being put on hold or restricted. Care of the elderly is regularly reported as being sub-standard. Waiting times are lengthening; tensions within the NHS increasing.

Reform can only be built upon a solid platform and I fear that the sinking sands will inevitably lead to structural collapse. Raiding surplus pension funds to bail out the business is Maxwellian, dangerous and ill-conceived. How often are we told: “Staff are the greatest NHS asset?” Well now is the time for politicians to put their support for the NHS to the test.

The perfect storm is not a cheap sound bite. Until or unless NHS staff are valued, respected and treated fairly, the storm clouds will loom large.

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One Response to “Climate is ripe for a perfect storm in the NHS”

  1. Malcolm Morrison says:

    Well said, Stephen.

    Why is it always ‘front line’ staff who are hardest hit when there is a ‘crisis’ (which seems to happen all too often!)? Might it not be preferable to ‘defer’ payment of the PFI ‘rent’ (which could then be ‘restructured’?) before disrupting the proper clinical care of patients?

    Maybe professional staff should only accept ‘non-payment’ of salaries (and offer to continue their services to patients) ONLY if ALL other managerial staff at local and Departmental level (including the Secretary of State) accept the same terms!

    Retired Orthopod – who is concerned that the NHS is dying from a self-inflicted injury!

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