The CQC’s latest care report highlights the issues the NHS is facing today, alongside the positive changes that could be made
According to the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) latest assessment of healthcare in England, some areas are falling behind.
The State of Care report highlights the degree of pressure currently on the NHS and primary care, social care and mental health services, warning that poor integration is part of the issue.
CQC also warned that, without a long-term settlement for social care, the long-term fund of £20bn for the NHS could be undermined.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Overall, care quality has been maintained across the country compared with the previous year.
The report says:
‘It is clear that people’s experience of care varies depending on where they live; and that these experiences are often determined by how well different parts of local systems work together.
‘Some people can easily access good care, while others cannot access the services they need, experience ‘disjointed’ care, or only have access to providers with poor services.’
The report is drawn from inspections of more than 30,000 services, as well as more than 20 local system reviews carried out by CQC.
The report also stated that safety was the biggest concern, adding:
‘There were improvements in safety in adult social care services and among GP practices. But while there were also small safety improvements in NHS acute hospitals, too many need to do better, with 40% of core services rated as requires improvement and three per cent rated as inadequate.
‘NHS mental health services also need to improve substantially, with 37% of core services rated as requires improvement and two per cent as inadequate.’
The report goes on to say that A&E showed pressures in the system most visibly.
‘A struggling local hospital can be symptomatic of a struggling local healthcare system. This indicates that – although good and outstanding primary care is more evenly distributed – there are parts of the country where people are less likely to get good care.’
New CQC chief executive, Ian Trenholm, said of the report:
“There need to be incentives that bring local health and care leaders together, rather than drive them apart.
“The challenge for parliament, national and local leaders and providers is to change the way services are funded, the way they work together and how and where people are cared for and supported. The alternative is a future in which care injustice will increase and where some people will be failed by the services that are meant to support them, with their health and quality of life suffering as result.”
Also responding to the report, BMA council chair, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, added:
“It is a testament to hardworking doctors and their colleagues that the NHS has managed to maintain high standards of care overall, despite the ongoing pressures of rising demand, workforce shortages and chronic under-resourcing.
“In particular, it is encouraging to see such a high proportion of GP practices performing so well and improving on last year’s figures at a time when the profession faces its own unique struggles.
“However, it is clearly worrying when almost half of A&E departments are rated as requiring improvement or inadequate, and more than a third of mental health trusts are not meeting safety targets.
“In a year that saw a record number of patients spending longer than 12 hours in A&E and waiting lists for operations hit a decade-long high, these figures are a reflection of the “inadequate” resources and capacity that hospitals are running on that cannot meet the rocketing demand for services.
“This was highlighted by the results of major survey recently published by the BMA of nearly 8000 doctors, which revealed that 97 per cent felt that lack of resources is affecting quality and safety of patient care.
“The CQC recognises the need for a joined-up health service, but it must also call for greater investment and infrastructure in the NHS if patients are to receive access to care when they need it most.
“Next month, the government will unveil its long-term plan for the NHS, and this must address the core resource needs of GP practices and hospitals to ensure patients are confident that the care they receive will be safe, of high quality, timely and easily accessible, regardless of where they live in the country.”