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14.02.13

Nicholson challenge putting pressure on care – The King’s Fund

The pressures of the NHS efficiency challenge are beginning to have an effect on quality and access to services, the new quarterly monitoring report by The King’s Fund suggests.

Surveys of NHS finance directors and directors of adult social services showed increasing concern over budgets and care. The report comes towards the end of the second year of the Nicholson challenge to save £20bn by 2015.

A third of finance directors reported that quality of care has worsened during the last year and over a third of social services directors expect to have to cut social services over the next year. 32 of the finance directors were pessimistic about the general financial state of their local health economy and 18 of the directors of adult social services are predicting an overspend on their budgets.

Professor John Appleby, chief economist at The King's Fund said: “The NHS faces unprecedented financial pressures, and there are growing worries that patient care will suffer. For social care, it will be increasingly difficult for councils to make further savings without directly cutting services or affecting quality. Health and care services have coped well until now, but it is clear that many organisations expect things to become much more difficult over the coming year.”

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