“This year’s state of care report illustrates the worrying consequences of a health and care system fighting ever-multiplying fires. Strike action, growing waiting times and a rapidly deteriorating financial picture due to rising costs are severely testing the resilience of health and care services. There are troubling signs that fairness and access for all is being put in peril, with some of those most in need of care unable to gain timely access, and persistent inequalities for people from minoritised ethnic groups.
“With more people now choosing or forced to pay for private healthcare if they can, there is a very real risk of entrenching a two-tier health system for those who can afford to go private. The NHS is rightly committed to restoring services inclusively, but this aim is at risk of being pushed aside given the incentives remain poor and services are grappling with the immediate costs of strike action, waiting time targets, and closing growing deficits.
“Local authorities were already struggling to meet growing need for care services before rising cost pressures hit, so inevitably this means more people unable to access care they need, particularly in more deprived areas. Financial pressures as well as repeated failed reforms have left social care services fragile and seen council-funded care packages shrinking with increasing numbers of people shut out from publicly funded care. With the cost of self-funded care growing many people are going without, which ultimately impacts on their quality of life and risks them losing their independence. Continued short-term funding injections into social care are fuelling uncertainty and leaving the sector susceptible to shocks, unable to invest in the workforce and infrastructure needed for the future.”
Notes to editors
- The Nuffield Trust is an independent health think tank. We aim to improve the quality of health care in the UK by providing evidence-based research and policy analysis and informing and generating debate www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk
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