The Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) State of Care report has warned of a postcode lottery in the provision of social care.
The annual assessment of of health and social care in England found that quality has been largely maintained, and in some cases improved, from last year, despite what the body calls ‘continuing challenges around demand and funding, coupled with significant workforce pressures as all sectors struggle to recruit and retain staff’.
However, it is clear that people’s experience of care varies depending on where they live; and that this is often determined by how well different parts of local systems work together. According to the CQC, some patientscan easily access good care, while others experience ‘disjointed’ care, or only have access to providers with poor services.
‘The fact that quality has been broadly maintained in the face of enormous challenges on demand, funding and workforce is a huge testament to staff and leaders,’ said Peter Wyman, Chair of the CQC. ‘But we cannot ignore the fact that not everyone is getting good care. Safety remains a real concern: although there have been some small improvements 40% of NHS acute hospitals’ core services and 37% of NHS mental health trusts’ core services were rated as requires improvement on safety.’
Mr Wyman also highlighted pressures on services, saying: ‘All providers are facing similar challenges – in acute hospitals, the pressure on emergency departments is especially visible – but while many are responding in a way that maintains quality of care, some are not.’
The report cites ineffective collaboration between local health and care services, resulting in people not being able to access the care and support services in the community that would avoid unnecessary admissions to hospital, which in turn leads to increased demand for acute services.
‘Our other big concern is the fragility of the adult social care market,’ said Mr Wyman. ‘Two years ago, we warned that social care was ‘approaching a tipping point’ – as unmet need continues to rise, this tipping point has already been reached for some people who are not getting the good quality care they need.
‘It is increasingly clear without a long-term funding settlement for adult social care, the additional funding for the NHS will be spent treating people with complex conditions for whom care in the community would have been more effective both in terms of their health and use of public money,’ concluded Mr Wyman