The NHS funding crisis and acute bed shortage

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2015 Health Care Service Group Conference
5 December 2014

Conference notes that since the election of the Con/Dem government there has been continuous and sustained underfunding of the NHS. Furthermore, conference notes that there is increased pressure on the NHS from the ever increasing numbers that are accessing the service.

As a result of increased attendance at emergency departments and as a result of Emergency Rate Threshold, many Trusts are facing severe financial difficulties. Consequently, a large amount of Trusts are now expecting to end the financial year with large deficits.

There has been a lack of reasonable funding to ensure that bed capacity reflects the demographic of each trust’s population, which has increased in most areas. Conference acknowledges that better dialogue between the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) and individual Trusts is needed to ensure that adequate bed capacity is fully funded and staffed with substantive members of staff employed by the NHS, reducing the reliance on Bank and Agency Staff.

Most Acute Trusts have been operating on Red throughout the year. This is effectively Winter Pressure Status. Bed capacity is at a premium. It is having an effect on patient care and on Staff who are at breaking point. However, conference acknowledges that the funding crisis within the NHS is not only due to capacity issues. It is also due to the NHS’s over reliance on Bank and Agency Staff. For example, London trusts alone spend more than £500 million a year on bank and agency staff.

Conference recognises that the NHS would not be so over reliant on Bank and Agency Staff if it ensured safe adequate staffing levels, implemented measures to support Staff in delivering adequate care, and provided Staff with the right skills and leadership to deliver first class care to patients. If these measures were in place, the NHS would have a better Staff retention rate. This would reduce the financial burden that the NHS incurs due to Bank & Agency Staff.

Conference calls upon the Health Service Group Executive to lobby the Secretary of State for Health to:

1) undertake a comprehensive review of the funding formula for individual NHS Trusts as the first step to tackle the funding crisis;

2) ensure that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Trusts revisit their acute bed capacity allocation and fully fund it;

3) make sure that individual Trusts have adequate staffing in place and ensure skills and leadership are reflected and fully funded.