Community services and social care must be the priorities for new NHS funding, according to a survey of NHS Trust directors and CCG finance directors.
The survey, carried out by the Kings Fund, found that top three priorities for investment defined by NHS trust finance directors were social care (67% of respondents), community services (53%) and mental health services (47%).
The top three priorities identified by CCG finance leads were general practice (79%), social care (65%) and community services (65%).
‘Policy-makers have long sought to provide more care in the community, closer to people’s homes, to improve patient care and reduce pressures on hospitals,’ said Siva Anandaciva, Chief Analyst at The King’s Fund and lead author of the report. ‘These attempts have for the most part failed and hospitals remain full to capacity, while underinvestment in community services continues. Our survey suggests that finally delivering this vision should he at the heart of the forthcoming NHS 10 year plan and that additional funding for social care must be a top priority for the forthcoming Spending Review.’
To help manage financial pressures, nearly 80 per cent off CCG finance leads said their organisation is considering extending the number of low-value treatments and prescriptions that will no longer be funded. Additionally, staff morale has risen to the top of the list of concerns among NHS trust finance directors, with nearly a quarter identifying this as one of their top three concerns, the highest proportion since 2013.
‘It is clear that the current NHS finance regime is broken, with huge deficits in some trusts and booming surpluses in others,’ added Ms Anandaciva. ‘The new funding settlement provides an opportunity to re-think the current system and to ensure that financial management in the NHS is proportionate, fair and effective.’
The new funding announced by the Prime Minister will not be available until April 2019. In the meantime, the survey indicates that the NHS is in for another very challenging year. Following on from last year’s NHS provider deficit of £960 million, the report highlights wide disparities in the financial position of different NHS organisations.