NHS workers’ views are ‘damning indictment of Jeremy Hunt’s record’

The huge vast majority of NHS staff want well being services to be merged with social care in order to support guarantee the NHS survives amid the increasing pressures of ageing, tight budgets and the need to have to seem soon after older men and women better.

Four out of five of the 1,069 respondents to the most current survey of members of the Guardian’s Healthcare Network, who do a wide range of clinical and management roles in the NHS, mentioned they backed a policy aim often described as the “holy grail” of healthcare.

Participants from a selection of NHS organisations, such as GPs, consultants, nurses, approach and policy managers at NHS trusts, and officials from NHS England, shared their views just prior to the initial anniversary of the coalition’s radical restructuring of the service in England.

When asked, “Are you in favour of integrating overall health and social care?”, 81% mentioned yes, 9% explained no and 11% have been uncertain.

A much smaller sized vast majority (61%) believed that merging the two solutions into a single was achievable, – although 18% disagreed, with 21% unsure – but offered that integration would inevitably involve alter, pain and a loss of autonomy and handle, that is a relatively optimistic response.

Supporters of integration said the move was “essential with an ageing population” and “essential to improving patient-centred healthcare”. Yet another stated: “We waste so a lot cash by obtaining different methods and it prevents continuity for sufferers.”

But there were sceptics too. “We integrated four years ago and the services are nevertheless fragmented, with patients falling among the two”, stated one particular. “Collaborative operating is far better than integration”, explained yet another, and further remarks backed integration “as prolonged as [it truly is] not under the management of local authorities”.

Comments on the achievability of this broadly sought after aim highlighted the complications concerned. “It will take a monumental shift in budgets, staffing and providers”, said one. It “will need pooled overall health and social care budgets, but absolutely everyone is so desperate for funds that no one particular can commit to taking the plunge in situation they appear to shed out. Present funding concerns lead to continuous brief-termism”, explained an additional.

One particular suggested “joint appointments to senior posts, but at present what I have seen is duplication of senior posts as every organisation would like to hold management of ‘their’ spending budget”.

Ministers are striving to encourage health and social care providers to come collectively and provide joint providers across England by way of the creation, from April 2015, of the Greater Care Fund. The Department of Wellness (DH) says its fund would “bring £3.8bn of overall health and social care funding collectively into a single seamless support to preserve our elderly and most vulnerable effectively for longer.” It will lead to pooled budgets in each and every portion of England, with £200m to aid smooth the integration. It is seen as a crucial way of prompting the joint operating, and possibly in the end the merger, of solutions experts think are necessary to hold the NHS sustainable.

Surprisingly, given how piecemeal integration has proved so far, as many as 49% of respondents stated their organisation was currently concerned in integrated doing work with social care providers in its area. Of these, 13% have been part of an integration pioneer task. Significantly less positively, when asked to determine the barriers to integration, respondents pointed out structural variations (78%), incompatible IT methods (66%), cultural differences (64%) and various regulatory techniques (59%) as effectively as “lack of curiosity at senior degree” (33%).

A lot of of the rest of the findings make worrying reading, each for the well being secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and for staff, bosses and supporters of the NHS. For illustration, 77% explained their job was harder now than final year, with just 5% disagreeing, and 50% explained they now had much less time with individuals than just before the 2013 shakeup, although a mere 6% said they had far more time. “Elevated workload”, “significantly less employees, far more patients” and “stress to make far more financial savings” had been among respondents’ feedback.

Crucially, 52% mentioned patient care had not improved more than the last year, regardless of the hefty strain on NHS companies to enhance the high quality and safety of care in the wake of Robert Francis’s report into the Mid Staffordshire scandal in February 2013, although twenty% mentioned it had received better.

“Staffing amounts are unsafe, unreliable and unpredictable” was one comment. Another respondent said: “Mantra is to discharge as quickly as achievable. If they are re-referred it counts as a new referral –we get paid yet again.” Other individuals talked about heightened pressure and unfilled vacancies.

Following his higher-profile drive to raise care standards, Hunt might react with anxiety to this kind of findings.

Even more doubts about the wisdom of last year’s massive upheaval emerged in the locating that 79% do not think the NHS is much more financially sustainable than it was a 12 months ago. Just 4% think it is.

Is the NHS match for goal? Although 47% said it was, a considerable minority (35%) disagreed. The majority view among survey respondents echoes the consensus amongst important health policy thinkers.

Two weeks in the past, Sir David Nicholson, the NHS’s outgoing boss, reshaped the expanding debate on how to preserve the NHS functioning appropriately in the many years ahead when he advised the Guardian that the service would require additional funding during the five many years of the next parliament to smooth its transition from its “unsustainable” existing to a long term in which several solutions come about outdoors hospitals.

Some 57% of respondents want higher taxation for deeper NHS investment. Of these, 38% favour higher taxes and 19% a hypothecated tax, even though perhaps surprisingly, 23% back charging sufferers for services and 21% endorse much more rationing of treatment method.

The money question is turning out to be urgent. Anita Charlesworth, the authoritative chief economist at the Nuffield Trust wellness thinktank, warns that: “If we want to maintain the existing NHS with a expanding and ageing population, and tackle issues about top quality, we will have to pay out for it one particular day. There is now a critical chance that the NHS will hit the monetary buffers prior to and not right after the subsequent election.”

4 in five (79%) think the NHS is beneath too considerably political handle, a concern shared at senior amounts in supposedly quasi-independent organisations such as NHS England and the regulator Check. Handful of think the Well being and Social Care Act’s intention of “liberating” the NHS from political direction and interference has become a actuality. And 61% back a database of patient information, although fewer (56% ) would allow their very own information to go into it.

Hunt evokes robust feelings. In all, 77% explained they did not have self-assurance in him just six% did. Right after alienating key personnel groups such as GPs, nurses and managers, and cancelling the NHS workforce’s advisable one% pay rise, that vote of no self confidence is to be anticipated.

Jamie Reed, a shadow overall health minister, calls it “a damning indictment of his [Hunt's] record. It is small wonder men and women feel this way following his persistent attempts to run down the NHS”.

Christine McAnea, head of overall health at union, Unison, agrees. “It comes as no shock that an mind-boggling bulk of health workers have no confidence in a secretary of state who has put the NHS underneath assault. Personnel are on common ten% worse off than when the coalition came to electrical power,” she says.

A DH spokesman says: “The health secretary recognises the really challenging operate of NHS workers but makes no apology for pushing for better transparency and increased requirements for individuals.”

Labour and Unison blame the difficulties highlighted in our survey on the NHS shakeup final 12 months. “The reforms have had a devastating influence on the NHS as a support and on personnel morale. Workers are feeling increasingly demotivated and demoralised. They are concerned about the top quality of care they are in a position to provide as they struggle with increasing amount of sufferers and staff shortages”, says McAnea.

The top priorities for the new NHS England chief executive, Simon Stevens, who begins next week, say Healthcare Network members, must be to increase employees morale, by some means get a lot more money for the NHS and to drive forward the integration of well being and social care that so many individuals doing work in the overall health support plainly think is so essential. All of these, however, are the accountability of ministers, not Stevens.

Far more on the survey at theguardian.com/healthcare-network

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