Three quarters of health and social care leaders believe finding enough money for care services will be one of the greatest challenges for the next government. But a similar proportion is not confident that the NHS will be able to meet its goal of £22 billion efficiency savings over the period of the next Parliament, according to a Nuffield Trust survey.
The Nuffield Trust surveyed a panel 100 senior figures for the fourth and final time ahead of the UK General Election. The findings reveal greater concern than ever about the quality of social care: of the 66 leaders who responded to the latest survey, 85 per cent say standards have worsened over the last year, an increase of 29 percentage points since they were first asked in June 2014.
“Leaders in health and social care are clear that the next five years will see financial pressure continue to dominate the agenda, but our panel is not confident about the NHS’s ability to meet its tough goals for savings."
Helen Crump, Fellow in Health Policy
Despite doubts about the ability of the NHS to meet its efficiency objectives, leaders believe most of the “new models of care” described in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View will improve both efficiency and quality. New ways for the NHS to work with people in care homes was seen as the innovation most likely to be effective.
Panellists also expected to see more use of volunteers in the NHS and social care, as proposed in the Forward View. Eighty two percent expected them to play a greater role in their own organisations, although just two-fifths think the voluntary sector is well equipped to perform a wider role within the NHS.
Helen Crump, Fellow in Health Policy at the Nuffield Trust, said:
“Leaders in health and social care are clear that the next five years will see financial pressure continue to dominate the agenda, but our panel is not confident about the NHS’s ability to meet its tough goals for savings. Nevertheless, there is support for many of the new care models set out in the forward view as ways of improving quality and efficiency.
“The Forward View lays out a greater role for volunteers, and leaders expect this to become a reality in their organisations by 2020. But our survey also shows they are not convinced that all parts of the voluntary sector are equipped for this yet.
“We’ve warned in the past about the impact of cuts to social care since 2010. Today’s survey suggests that concern about social care is stronger than ever among the most senior people responsible for planning and delivering our health and care services.”
Notes to editors
- The Nuffield Trust’s Health Leaders’ Panel consists of 100 managers and clinicians drawn from across the NHS, social care, and local HealthWatch groups.
- This survey of their views is the fourth in a series conducted by the Nuffield Trust in the run up to the General Election.
- Between 20 February and 6 March, the Nuffield Trust asked the panel a series of questions about how they saw the future of health and social care in England. 66 of the 100 leaders responded.
- NHS England's Five Year Forward View estimates (p.35) that if there was no real terms increase in the NHS budget, a funding gap of almost £30 billion would emerge by the year 2020/21. Assuming NHS England receives additional funding of £8 billion over the period, as it has requested, this leaves a shortfall of £22 billion to be met via efficiencies.
- The Nuffield Trust is an independent healthcare think tank. It conducts cutting edge research and influential analysis, informs and generates debate, supports leaders, and examines international best practice.