By Debbie le Quesne

Care quality alert as screw tightens on the NHS

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Social care and the long-suffering providers who serve its needs are not alone when it comes to underfunding.

In a week of harrowing newsbreaks, I see that NHS acute services are to face more cuts when 2015/16 changes to funding arrangements will see £2 billion transferred to community health and social care provision.

The warning comes in a parliamentary report.

The impact for the NHS is already causing waves, while social care operators in the private sector suspect the cash injection will be far too small to plug the holes.

The House of Commons Health Committee highlighted a warning from the chief executive of health regulator Monitor, David Bennett, that the cash transfer, resulting from the introduction of the Better Care Fund from April next year, will present a “huge challenge” to NHS medical and surgical treatment mostly provided in hospitals.

The committee warned that the current model of care is “not changing quickly enough” to cope with demand and funding pressures.

As a result it appears there is a threat to both the quality of care received by patients and the financial stability of individual providers.

Now the committee has called on both the regulator and NHS trusts to “address the need to develop different structures to meet changing needs”.

“At a time when NHS providers face an unprecedented need to change the care model, Monitor must be a facilitator of change, not an obstacle,” says the report.

The committee stated (published in the Guardian: “The model of care provided by the health and care system is not changing quickly enough, with the result that pressures continue to build, threatening the financial stability of individual providers, and therefore the quality of care provided;

“These pressures are likely to be particularly marked in the acute sector as plans are prepared and implemented to achieve the resource transfer required by the introduction of the Better Care Fund from April 2015.”

And sadly, the committee adds that as the financial screw tightens the challenge for Monitor in supporting trusts in financial difficulty is likely to increase.

Social care has always been the poor relation in the care loop and the transfer of this funding from the NHS I fear will do littler other than to deepen the divide between the two essential disciplines.


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