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NHS hits ‘point of no return’, says RCP


21 September 2016

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NHS funding will grow by just 0.2% per year to 2020, while patient demand on services will increase by 4% annually, a new report has said.

Meanwhile, social care cuts and hospital deficits of £2.45 billion are increasing the burden on the NHS.

NHS funding will grow by just 0.2% per year to 2020, while patient demand on services will increase by 4% annually, a new report has said.

Meanwhile, social care cuts and hospital deficits of £2.45 billion are increasing the burden on the NHS.

The report, ‘Underfunded, underdoctored, overstretched’, from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) also highlights the shortage of doctors training to be medical specialists with seven out of 10 physicians-in-training working on a rota with a permanent gap.

Doctors-in-training also reported working an extra five weeks each year on top of rostered hours, while four in five report that their job causes them excessive stress and three-quarters go through at least one shift a month without drinking enough water.

Candace Imison, Nuffield Trust director of policy, said gaps in rotas and recruitment are making it difficult for trusts to provide services and is taking its toll on doctors, adding that she has “grave concerns” over the implications of this on morale.

She said: “The NHS needs a sustainable funding settlement. Our work shows that under current plans, trusts are being asked to make savings over the next two years at a rate never before achieved – at a time when they are already visibly struggling after delivering efficiencies through years of financial pressure. We cannot carry on like this.“

The report adds that the NHS, which is “at a point of no return”, is now putting patient safety and recovery at risk.

Recent figures have shown that the number of patients kept in hospital because of delays in being discharged has increased by 80% in the past five years.

Dr Andrew Goddard, RCP registrar, said: “It is clear to all of us working in the NHS that we are at a point of no return and the NHS in its current form is unsustainable without a significant increase in funding.

“We can’t continue to provide ever-more-expensive treatments to an ever-increasing group of patients and not expect the system to collapse.

“As doctors, we see the problems this creates on a daily basis, be it at the front door of the hospital, in A&E or in outpatients. Patients can see it too and realise that the NHS is no longer the envy of the world and isn’t fit for our changing world.”

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