A damning new report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has laid bare the “gridlocked” state of health and social care in England, saying it is “unable to operate effectively” amidst record demand and workforce crises.
As part of work coordinating inspections across 10 ICSs, the CQC formed a core group of 250 health and care leaders – the group described the health system they work in as “in crisis” as well as sharing fears that the risk of people coming to harm representing a worrying new precedent.
The report goes onto highlight growing public and staff dissatisfaction with health and care services, citing the record numbers of people leaving the sector, all whilst providers continue to find recruitment more and more difficult.
The report also laments the fact that only two in five patients are able to leave hospital when they are ready to do so, subsequently contributing to record waiting times and growing backlog.
The CQC say that without urgent action, staff retention will continue to decline across healthcare, which will only increase pressure across the board and lead to worse health outcomes for the population.
To solve this – whilst emphasising the need for long-term planning and investment to understand and ultimately solve the problems at hand – the CQC are urging local leaders to bring data and information together in order to come up with agreeable solutions that focus on the overall patient experience.
Ian Trenholm, Chief Executive of CQC, said: “The health and care system is gridlocked and unable to operate effectively. This means that people are stuck – stuck in hospital because there isn’t the social care support in place for them to leave, stuck in emergency departments waiting for a hospital bed to get the treatment they need, and stuck waiting for ambulances that don’t arrive because those same ambulances are stuck outside hospitals waiting to transfer patients.
“There’s lots of great care out there – from the GP practice in Manchester carrying out ward rounds in care homes, to the new initiatives introduced by a hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne which have improved people’s access to and experience of cancer treatments, to the ICS in Cornwall using inclusive technology to help give people more control of the services they use.
“However, the fact is that it’s hard for health and care staff to deliver good care in a gridlocked system. There are no quick fixes, but there are steps to be taken now on planning, investment and workforce that will help to avoid continuing deterioration in people’s access to and experience of care. By working together to address the issues that lie behind the gridlock, we can create conditions that mean that next year, more people can access good, safe health and social care – delivered by a better supported workforce who have more reason to be optimistic about the future.”
Responding to the CQC’s report, NHS Providers’ interim chief executive, Saffron Cordery, said: "The regulator's hard-hitting report makes clear that people's care is affected by chronic staff shortages across the health and care system and must be a wake-up call for the government.
"As demand for NHS services continues to rise, ahead of a busy winter and amid the rising cost of living, government attention is needed to address long-standing challenges in our health and care system, including workforce planning and better investment in capital to shore up safe and effective buildings and equipment for a modern-day service.”
Read the full report here.