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According to a leading health think tank, NHS services in England are deteriorating ‘in a way not seen since the early 1990s.’
The King's Fund review said performance levels concerning cancer care, A&E waiting times and even routine operations were all getting worse, while deficits were growing.
Despite the criticism however, the think tank acknowledged the NHS had ‘done as well as could be expected, given the financial climate’, and that after 20 years of almost continuous improvement, this was the first time there had been a sustained dip in performance levels.
As well as highlighting a range of problems such as missed A&E waiting time targets and bed occupancy and delays in discharging patients both having risen significantly, the report also focused on a number of achievements.
These included points such as public satisfaction levels having reached their second highest levels ever, hospital infections such as MRSA dropping to historically low levels, and numbers of doctors and nurses rising steadily.
The report centred on the problem of funding however, clearly illustrating how the NHS is operating at the very edge of its limits and how patient care is likely to deteriorate as rising demand and financial pressures become overwhelming.
It is crucial the next government takes note of the warnings made in this report. The extra £8 billion NHS England says it needs each year by 2020 is the bare minimum required to maintain quality of care as demand continues to rise.
The funding problem the NHS faces is clearly one of the most pressing issues at hand and as we approach a general election, it needs to be a central issue in the election campaigns.
Without the crucial funding the NHS needs, vital services will be stretched beyond their means, patient care will suffer and incidents of medical negligence such as A&E errors, misdiagnoses, and mistakes made during operations and medical procedures will unfortunately continue to rise.
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