The King’s Fund comment on NHS provider performance

Siva Anandaciva Chief Analyst at The King’s Fund responds to the report on NHS provider performance in the first quarter of 2018/19

‘After a punishing summer of heatwaves and ever-increasing demands on services, today’s report shows that the NHS is heading for another tough winter.

‘Widespread and growing nursing shortages now risk becoming a national emergency and are symptomatic of a long-term failure in workforce planning, which has been exacerbated by the impact of Brexit and short-sighted immigration policies.

‘The right to start treatment within 18 weeks is enshrined in the NHS Constitution, yet three and half thousand people have now been on hospital waiting lists for more than a year and waiting lists stand at their highest levels in over a decade. This is unacceptable and the review of waiting time targets currently underway must ensure that patients not treated within initial time limits are protected from lengthy waits for treatment.

‘With hospitals and other NHS providers once again forecasting a significant end-of-year deficit, it is clear that the NHS finance regime is broken, with financial targets routinely missed and huge financial problems in some NHS organisations offset by surpluses in others.

‘The new funding settlement announced by the government is very welcome, but it is not a panacea for the pressures facing the NHS. Today’s report is a reminder that the forthcoming NHS long-term plan must focus on reform and investment in new ways of delivering services otherwise the NHS will be trapped in a perpetual winter crisis.’