The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has produced its annual report which includes concerns about the future of the health and social care system that is struggling to cope with the increasingly complex needs of the population. The report also mentions concerns about staff shortages, rising demand and the number of patients with preventable illnesses.
The CQC’s report was published following its new inspection regime of hospitals, mental health units and care services. In the report, the efforts of staff were applauded but there was also warning that the system is now at full capacity and facing rising pressure.
The CQC highlighted that more patients are having to wait for treatment; the number of people waiting more than four hours at A&E is growing and the number of cancelled planned operations is on the rise.
The report also stated that the number of beds available in nursing homes is decreasing, bed shortages are above recommended levels and the number of people that are not getting support for their social care needs is rising.
According to the CQC, these problems will only be amplified by increasing demand, with contributing factors such as growing staff shortages and financial constraints.
Sir David Behan chief executive of the CQC made the point that “As people’s health and care needs change and become more complex, a model of care designed for the 20th century is at full stretch and struggling to cope with 21st century problems”.
Niall Dickson, Chief executive of the NHS Confederation, commented on the CQC’s findings: “the report reveals real concerns that mental health and social care services are not sustainable,” and emphasised that “without further government funding today’s perilous state will become tomorrow’s tragedy”.
Nuffield Trust director of research Professor John Appleby also responded to the report suggesting that “The CQC’s warnings must be seen in the context of the unsustainable financial squeeze. The NHS ended last year with an underlying deficit of £3.7bn and faces an even greater challenge this year.”
He went on to say that “perhaps the most worrying parts of this report touch on social care for older people,” mentioning that “one in eight are not receiving the care that they need in the community, and costs have already been pushed so low that companies are giving up contracts”.
Professor Appleby also added that “We agree that the future funding and organisation of social care is becoming one of the greatest unresolved policy issues of our time, and action on this is now an important priority.”