Patient safety


NHS can’t replace ‘tatty’ and broken-down equipment due to lack of funding

“Missed investment opportunities” for vital cancer scanning and major equipment were identified as issues created due to government cuts in NHS funding, new research shows.

Broken-down ambulances, rotten windows, and “tatty” equipment that manufacturers are no longer supporting due to its age were cited as symptoms of failures in funding by the 30 trusts interviewed as part of research by the University of Birmingham and the Health Foundation.

The study told of interviews where hospitals could only afford to replace equipment when it was essential and absolutely necessary for patient safety. “There has been quite a lot of occasions in mid-year when stuff has broken down and we’ve had to suddenly change our plans,” one interview said.

“What we are doing is spending £15m of capital to replace urgently-needed equipment, not just equipment that needs replacing. If it is not urgent, it doesn’t get replaced,” another source said.

Earlier this month NHS performance was criticised by the Health Foundation’s Jennifer Dixon for its “bleedin’ obvious” lack of funding. In December 2017, a King’s Fund report found there was a mismatch in demand and funding caused by “unprecedented” pressures to the service.

Vital equipment such as cancer screening scanners were also highlighted by leader of the report Prof Lestyn Williams as machines that, if invested in fully, would improve quality of patient care.

One organisation said: “We have got a situation in CT where our scanners were old, you could introduce newer scanners, the dosage could be far better for patients, they have got more sophisticated over time, so when you can’t replace those or you have to phase those in over a longer period of time, there are patient care issues.”

The health provider continued to say that they were “clinging on by our fingertips” in providing adequate patient care, and argued that the appalling surrounding service equipment was impacting patient recovery.

In telling of expectations from a provider’s financial boards, a source said: “We would come up with a list and say, ‘the board’s told us to sit within £20m this year, we’ve got a list of £40m and it’s all priority one risk.’ So we’d go through it again and then the board would come back and say ‘actually we’ve changed our mind because of the financial situation; it’s not £20m, it’s got to be £11m.’”

Investment in IT and electronic records systems was seen as urgent in some cases, and respondents within mental health cited the potential for serious quality failures where electronic recording systems do not work effectively across inpatient and community settings.


Enjoying NHE? Subscribe here to receive our weekly news updates or click here to receive a copy of the magazine!


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment


national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

Lancashire County Council to pay £200k in legal costs after Virgin Care legal battle

17/08/2018Lancashire County Council to pay £200k in legal costs after Virgin Care legal battle

Lancashire County Council has agreed to pay £200,000 in legal costs to two NHS Trusts after their decision to hand a £104million cont... more >
Former inadequate West Midlands maternity unit upgraded by CQC

17/08/2018Former inadequate West Midlands maternity unit upgraded by CQC

Walsall Manor Hospital’s maternity services have been given an improved rating from the health inspectorate following assessments made in J... more >
Major hospital stalled by Carillion collapse will go ahead under government funding deal

16/08/2018Major hospital stalled by Carillion collapse will go ahead under government funding deal

The construction of a major Midlands hospital that had its future cast into doubt following the collapse of infrastructure giant Carillion has be... more >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital e... read more >

last word

Hard to be optimistic

Hard to be optimistic

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, warns that we must be realistic about the very real effects of continued underfunding across the health service. It’s now bey... more > more last word articles >

the scalpel's daily blog

The NICE impact on falls and fragility fractures

10/08/2018The NICE impact on falls and fragility fractures

Falls should not be an inevitable part of ageing – and their snowball effect means the consequence of falls are far from limited to just hospital admissions, says Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE Almost a third of over-65s in the UK have a fall at least once a year, with a... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >


Listening to the frontline

15/08/2018Listening to the frontline

Professor Wendy Reid, executive director of education & quality and national medical director at Health Education England (HEE), shares insig... more >
Medication without harm

15/08/2018Medication without harm

The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Third Global Patient Safety Challenge, ‘Medication without harm,’ is ambitious, b... more >
Stepping up the fight against AMR

15/08/2018Stepping up the fight against AMR

Professor Mark Baker, director of the Centre for Guidelines at NICE, explains what the organisation is doing to support the fight against antimic... more >
Population health for the 21st century

15/08/2018Population health for the 21st century

NHS Partners Network (NHSPN) chief executive David Hare discusses the themes covered at his organisation’s Confed18 panel debate on populat... more >


Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

24/01/2018Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

The NHS plays a part in the country’s wellness – but it’s far from being all that matters. Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Pu... more >
Cutting through the fake news

22/11/2017Cutting through the fake news

In an era of so-called ‘fake news’ growing alongside a renewed focus on reducing stigma around mental health, Paul Farmer, chief exec... more >
Tackling infection prevention locally

04/10/2017Tackling infection prevention locally

Dr Emma Burnett, a lecturer and researcher in infection prevention at the University of Dundee’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and a boar... more >
Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

02/10/2017Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

NHE interviews Gillian Fox, head of eProcurement (Scan4Safety) programme at NHS Supply Chain. How has the Scan4Safety initiative evolved sin... more >

health service focus

View all News