King's Fund report reveals the impact of underfunding on future care

The King's Fund have published a new report, "Understanding NHS Financial Pressures", the findings of which "set out create a fundamental challenge to the direction of travel set out in the NHS five year forward view". The report (attached) focuses primarily on four areas: genito-urinary medicine, district nursing, elective hip replacement, and neonatal services, and suggests that "Many of the cuts that have been made – such as cuts to staff and preventive services – are storing up problems for the future".

Visual resources from the report can be found here

Key messages from the report

  • Financial pressures on the NHS are severe and show no sign of easing […] financial and other pressures are affecting these service areas to different degrees.
  • The greatest impact on patient care was found in GUM and district nursing services, […]
  • Financial pressures are affecting patient care in ways that are difficult to detect with currently available metrics. […]
  • The growing gap between demand for services and available resources means that staff are acting as shock absorbers, working longer hours and more intensely to protect patient care.
  • In the face of these challenges, NHS services are not standing still. Commissioner and provider staff in all four service areas were working hard to maintain service  quality, innovate, and develop new models of care. However, there were also instances where innovation was stifled because the funding, staff time or skills necessary to stimulate change were not available.
  • The research highlights the importance of collaboration between commissioners, providers and users at a service level to address the challenges facing services and to secure the future sustainability of the health and care system. It also shows that some of these relationships are not working effectively at the moment.
  • In some (mainly acute) services, patients have so far been relatively protected from the impact of recent financial pressures. […] Financial pressures have had a much greater impact on some other services […]
  • Although NHS funding growth began to slow in 2010/11, it appears to have taken some time for financial constraints to impact on patient care, and our data suggests that these impacts will spread and intensify in the future. Many of the cuts that have been made – such as cuts to staff and preventive services – are storing up problems for the future.
  • Our findings create a fundamental challenge to the direction of travel set out in the NHS five year forward view and the implementation of new models of care. […]