Lack of staff who risk patient examination
Nine out of 10 NHS chiefs in England believe staffing shortages endanger patient safety and care, a new study suggests.
Health leaders urge the next government to deal with rising pressures, warning that there are no doctors and nurses and the failure to resolve the pension crisis is threatening standards. Some 131 senior figures, including chief executives, chairs and directors, responded to a survey conducted by the NHS Confederation through its membership, which included trust in NHS, clinical order groups and local integrated care systems.
The findings were announced Tuesday, ahead of the general election. Nearly three out of five (58%) said they believed this winter would be the worst for waiting and performance records in the NHS, with 90% claiming to understand that risk puts patient safety and care at risk.
More than three-quarters of those surveyed said support and growth in the NHS workforce should be a key priority, ranking it highest at a time when there are more than 100,000 vacancies among clinical and nurses. About 83% said they believed the NHS pension scheme had a negative impact on workforce pressures, with approximately seven in ten (69%) saying it was harmful to patient care.
Neil Dixon, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: "The NHS is starting this winter with significant staff and performance challenges.
"Therefore, it is no wonder that health leaders are deeply concerned about its ability to cope with demand, even as frontline staff treat more patients than ever. "The views of our members should send a clear message to anyone forming the new government in light of the challenge the NHS faces and how to make the service tailored to the future."
It comes as figures released last week show demand continues to rise, with the NHS treating more people than ever before, while key hospital care targets and A&E have reached their worst levels since the standards were introduced in 2004.
Nearly two-thirds (65%) of health bosses surveyed said they felt the measures were not 'fit for purpose', while 71% said they welcomed the expected move towards more 'nuanced' NHS access standards in England.
Mr Dixon added: "Targets are a force for good and should not be abandoned, but we should distance ourselves from the current approach to the rocks, where for a few minutes each side of the target is a success or failure. "Any change must emphasize the need for quick access to treatment, but in a way that will give priority to patients with the most pressing needs."