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25.07.17

CQC chief: There’s a lot trusts can do to improve care without extra cash

Although more money would be welcome, the NHS can improve its care and standards by running more efficiently, the outgoing chief inspector of hospitals at the CQC has today said.

Speaking too BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Professor Sir Mike Richards, who will leave his post at the CQC at the end of the month, has repeated the message sent by the Conservative Party that while the NHS requires more money, it also needed to make better use of the resources at hand.

It comes after the CQC released a report in March declaring that hospitals stood on a “burning platform” as trusts struggled to keep up with increasing demand under hugely difficult financial pressures.

“It will need more money,” he said during the programme. “But equally, what we have seen through our inspections is that an awful lot can be done.

“Even at times of austerity, when the money hasn’t been coming through fast, we have seen a number of hospitals actually getting better during that time and a number of mental health trusts getting better because they have focused on what really matters to patients, on patient safety, on the whole leadership agenda within these hospitals, in order to engage their staff and deliver better care.”

Sir Mike also said that “two things can be true at the same time”, arguing that this did not mean that funding was not urgently needed for the NHS. 

“There’s no doubt the NHS needs more money because of increasing demand on it and the need to transform services,” he continued. “But it’s also true, as we have seen, that things can be done better without more money.

“And that is what we’re encouraging, alongside saying yes, we will need more money.”

The CQC lead also commented on figures released today by NHS Digital which revealed that workforce vacancies in the health service had soared to worrying levels over the last two years.

“There is no doubt that the workforce of the NHS and indeed the care system generally is absolutely critical and we do need to have more staff, that’s true in virtually every sector,” he stated. “If we are leaving the EU there is a threat to that, which we need to make sure is being dealt with so that we are not losing staff and we can then replace them if necessary to grow our own, if you like.”

The Royal College of Occupational Therapists agreed with Sir Mike’s argument, noting that the NHS and the nation owed the CQC inspector of hospitals “a huge debt of gratitude for his many years of commitment and dedication to improving the quality, safety and efficiency of the health and care system”.

“Sir Mike is right to point out that whilst an increase in funding would of course be welcome, the NHS needs to do more to ensure that where best practice is identified it is implemented across the whole system quickly,” Julia Scott, the organisation’s CEO, commented.

“Too often the health and social care sector fails to put in place the right services to prevent admissions to hospital and to get people back home again as soon as they are medically fit..”

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