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09.04.18

‘Burdensome’ NHS trust regulations not keeping pace with integrated care

NHS trusts have today warned that the way they are being regulated is not keeping pace with the move towards delivering more integrated care for patients.

Only one in five trusts who responded to an NHS Providers survey are clear on how the regulations will ensure high-quality and safe services for patients and service users.

It also remains unclear what regulators expect from trusts with regards to sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) and integrated care systems, despite significant investment being made into these new models of care.

This lack of clarity on how local care and health systems will be regulated has the chance to cause confusion in terms of who is responsible for holding trusts to account on quality of care and financial performance.

Amber Jabbal, head of policy at NHS Providers, said: “The views of trust leaders show that the demands of regulators continue to place considerable strain on trusts’ time and staff, diverting resources away from the frontline and patient care.

“At a time when trusts are under tremendous pressure to meet ambitious financial targets, address workforce challenges and meet rising demand, it is disappointing to see the burden and the number of ad-hoc requests from regulators increase again.

“Patient safety and quality of care must remain the priority but we risk diverting time and attention from where it is most needed – on the frontline.”

Despite these concerns, Jabbal noted the trusts remain optimistic about the regulators’ fresh approach and that they must work with the trusts to ensure the regulatory system is fit for integrated care.

The findings are published in the NHS Providers’ fourth regulation survey, with 86 trusts responding (37%).

Despite optimism from many trust leaders about the regulations put in place over the last year, almost two-thirds of them believe they will not reduce the administrative burdens on them.

Fewer than half (43%) think the current system is working well, and a very low 8% of the trusts who responded to the survey believe that the current regulatory system provides ‘good value for money.’

Value for money is a crucial concern considering the CQC is in the process of rolling out its new 2018-19 fee structure, with 75% of trusts seeing an average of 29% reduction in their fees.

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