RCPCH responds to new report by The King’s Fund

The King’s Fund have released a report, ‘Understanding NHS Financial Pressures’, which looked at four services including neonatal care, to explore the impact of financial pressures on patient care. The report found that access to and quality of care are both being affected in different ways across the NHS. 

Responding to the King’s Fund report, Professor Neena Modi, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said:

“It’s heartening, and consistent with our own findings from the National Neonatal Audit, that the quality of neonatal services in the UK is considered high. But there is no room for complacency. 

“Variation between services particularly in the extent to which agreed standards are being met is a concern, and appears to be largely driven by variable local funding decisions.  Equally worrying are the workforce challenges  with medical and nursing staff shortages, and the number of neonatal units operating above recommended occupancy levels. This poses serious threats to patient safety from overstretched staff, and the all too frequent need to transfer sick babies between hospitals because of a lack of capacity. Financial pressures also appear to be limiting access to allied health professionals who make important contributions to the care of sick babies and their families.

“We constantly hear the claim that the NHS is unaffordable. So it is extraordinary that major areas of waste such as the internal market that is estimated to cost between £4.5 billion and £10 billion to administer, have not been abolished, and that a growing proportion of public funds are being diverted to for-profit providers. Poll after poll also shows that the public would be willing to pay a bit more to support the NHS through general taxation. So the claim of unaffordability would appear to be a myth.

“This report is a timely reminder of the human cost of the financial squeeze being imposed upon the NHS. Government owes it to this, and future generations, to eliminate variability in the quality of services , invest in the workforce, and provide a long term financial plan to ensure the sustainability of UK health services.”