NHS cuts and performance targets are ‘beyond reach’, health service leaders warn

This article was taken from: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/nhs-cuts-savings-targets-health-uk-government-financial-a8278511.html

By Alina Polianskaya

A total of 3.6 million people could be waiting more than four hours for A&E by next year

NHS performance and savings targets are “beyond reach” for most hospitals, according to a new report.

It found just one in 20 NHS trusts believed they had a chance of hitting the A&E target of 95 per cent of patients being admitted to hospital, transferred to another provider or discharged within four hours.

NHS Providers –  a membership organisation and trade association for NHS trusts – warned that the number of people waiting longer than this for A&E could reach 3.6 million next year, in a report into what the health service may look like in 2018/19.

The group, which represents NHS acute, ambulance, community and mental health services, added that the issue stretches beyond emergency care, as they claimed as many as 560,000 people will wait more than 18 weeks for routine care by March next year – a rise of 80,000.

The report, which was based on a survey of 97 NHS trust chief executives and finance directors, found that 55 per cent of trusts could not handle the numbers on their waiting lists for care.

As such, the report said patients’ experience of care would “continue to fall below the standards trusts consider acceptable next year”.

It warned that the government had not done enough to resolve the immediate challenges the NHS faced and although it welcomed suggestions of a long term funding plan, it said the issue was about more than just money.

Setting targets that were “beyond reach” creates a “toxic” culture in the NHS, the report said, as it negatively affected accountability, created poor morale and wore away public confidence in the health service.

“There is nothing to suggest that this scale or width of improvement is deliverable without a major system change.”

The authors added: “If the NHS fails to improve performance and it holds at current levels, we estimate over 3.6 million patients will not be treated within four hours in 2018/19.”

NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said: “Our analysis shows the levels of performance expected and the savings demanded for next year are beyond reach. The new financial year begins next week.

“Whilst we strongly welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment to increase long-term funding for the NHS, it makes no immediate difference to the tough task facing trusts for next year. This report also shows – as the Prime Minister argued – that this is not just about funding.

“Trusts are struggling with major workforce shortages and they need help from the government here too.”

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt, said in a written statement to the House of Commons on Wednesday that he recognised the NHS faced over winter period but added that more than 55,000 people were seen within four hours per day in February which is an increase of 1,000 per day than in the same month last year.

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