Workers from Huddersfield Royal Infirmary marching to 10 Downing Street to tell PM May that their hospital must remain open and fully functioning
Workers from Huddersfield Royal Infirmary marching to 10 Downing Street to tell PM May that their hospital must remain open and fully functioning

‘WE FACE the greatest challenge in a generation,’ NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson told its annual conference in Birmingham yesterday.

The just launched The state of the NHS provider sector report, the largest ever survey of NHS trust chairs and chief executives, revealed rising concern over the growing NHS ‘workforce gap’.

Hopson warned that ‘providers simply cannot deliver all that they are being asked to deliver on the funding available … the NHS can’t deliver what it is formally and constitutionally required to deliver. And if we fail to deliver the impossible, that failure is plain and transparent for all to see. So it really isn’t just a question of provider boards trying harder, being more imaginative and transformational, or just doing what local government, the police and prisons have done….

‘We believe the government should increase funding. And if it won’t, it has to honestly accept the consequences – that the NHS can no longer deliver what is being asked of it and the offer has to change.’

He stressed: ‘The government has said there will be no more money. The government and our system leaders have said that the NHS still has to deliver everything that is currently being asked for. That is why I am repeating today what we said eight weeks ago – there is a clear gap between what the NHS is being required to deliver and the money available. We cannot deliver everything that is being asked for on the funding provided.’

The report showed that only one in four trust leaders (27%) are confident they have the right staff numbers, quality and skill mix to deliver high quality healthcare for patients and service users.

Fewer still (22%) are confident about having the right staffing levels in six months’ time. In his conference speech Hopson said: ‘The staff survey results show that the number of staff feeling they have experienced harassment, bullying or abuse from other members of staff has jumped from 14% in 2011, already a high figure, to 25% in 2015.

‘The number of staff experiencing work related stress in the previous 12 months has jumped from 29% in 2011 to 37% in 2015. The 2015 staff survey also shows that only 75% of the black and ethnic minority believe that their trust provides equal opportunities for career progression, 13% less compared to their white counterparts. And we know from the junior doctors’ dispute that many junior doctors feel they are not properly supported to give of their best in what is a crucial role.’

Responding to the NHS Providers ‘State of the NHS’ report Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, said: ‘This report shows that things are getting worse and that financial pressures, staff shortages, and a lack of long-term planning have hit access to NHS services and the quality of patient care …

‘This report echoes the BMA’s concerns that sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) are not progressing effectively, and that several key stakeholders, including patient groups, have not been involved in the process. It is crucial that STPs are not just a disguise for further cuts.’