“Our worst fears for NHS are coming true,” says UNISON

UNISON, the UK’s largest union, is warning that its worst fears for the NHS are coming true, as the health service struggles to deliver quality patient care due to time and resource constraints.

A new report by the King’s Fund out today, finds that three-quarters of NHS professionals do not think that quality of care in the NHS is given enough priority. The largest barriers to delivering top quality patient care are identified as time and resource constraints by NHS staff.

The findings echo an earlier UNISON survey* in which 60% of staff said they did not have enough time to deliver safe, dignified and compassionate patient care. Time constraints were blamed for patients not receiving the care that respondents felt should have been delivered. Shockingly, almost 20% of respondents described care failings in their organisations as being on a par with the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

Another study** released yesterday confirmed that NHS funding “fell in real terms by 0.7% in 2010 and a further 1.2% in 2011.”

Christina McAnea, UNISON head of health, said: “Our worst fears for the NHS are coming true. The health service is under severe and growing strain. Health workers are struggling to deliver quality care to patients and A and Es are abandoning their targets because they know they cannot be met.

“Cuts mean trusts do not have enough money to pay for a growing and complex health service that relies on expensive equipment, high-tech treatment and costly drugs. Staff numbers – including nurses – are falling at a time when patient demand is growing.

“A shocking number of health workers fear a Mid Staffs care failing will happen at their trust. UNISON is calling for minimum staff to patient ratios to provide a safety net of care – but this is something the government is so far refusing to do.”

* UNISON survey conducted on March 5 2013.

* Nuffield Trust and the Institute of Fiscal Studies.