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MPs claim ‘future NHS can’t be built on open-ended pay freeze’

The health select committee has found that the NHS needs fundamental change to meet the needs of patients.

MPs said that the speed of the transformation was not sufficient enough to meet the challenge ahead, also claiming that the health service was not meeting the Nicholson Challenge on efficiency.

The new report by the committee recommends that government should identify and remove obstacles to the proposed merger of Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals and Poole FT merger.

It also claims that the future of the NHS cannot be built on an open-ended pay freeze, especially since 48% of trusts are forecasting a deficit in the current financial year.

“The Nicholson Challenge requires the health and care system to deliver fundamental change so that services are joined up and focused on the needs of patients,” says Committee chair Stephen Dorrell MP.

“What we have heard during our inquiry indicates that while many of the straightforward savings have been made, we have not seen the transformation of care on the scale which is needed to meet demand and improve care quality.

“The NHS budget is static, and the social care budget is falling. In these circumstances, the successful integration of high-quality health and care services represents a substantial and growing challenge.

“The situation is not helped by the current fragmented commissioning structures. The committee’s view is that, as Health and Wellbeing Boards have been established to allow commissioners to look across a whole local health and care economy, their role should be developed to allow them to become effective commissioners of joined-up health and care services.

“We also recommend, as we did a year ago, that the current level of real terms funding for social care should be ring-fenced. Alongside the government’s commitment to maintain health spending at current levels in real terms, this would give certainty about budgets for a whole health and care economy and provide a firm financial basis for Health and Wellbeing Boards to plan and implement transformative service change.

“Without stronger commissioners and ring-fenced health and care funding, we believe there is a serious risk to both the quality and availability of care services to vulnerable people in the years ahead.”

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive & general secretary of the RCN adds: “We need more attention and a lot more investment to transform care and meet the challenge of a rapidly changing health system.

“We know the pressures and financial constraints that trusts are facing, and with growing demands for services we need to ensure that the NHS budget, as well as social care budget, is ring-fenced in order to create a sustainable NHS for the future.

“Safe staffing levels and the use of better paid higher skilled staff are complementary initiatives to raise the quality of patient care – better trained and motivated staff deliver better care.”