2016: Quality at a cost

Quality at a cost is the fourth annual statement from QualityWatch, a joint research programme from the Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation.

Amid growing pressures on the NHS, including budget constraints and increasing demand, the report identifies some aspects of care that are performing well, but also highlights continuing problems, including access to services and a slowing down of improvement in performance.

QualityWatch routinely monitors over 300 indicators spread across all domains of quality. This report considers a selection of areas from within this set, covering different stages of a patient’s experience of the health service, to give a picture of quality in 2016. It looks across six main areas: 

  • Public health 
  • Primary care
  • Ambulances
  • Hospital care
  • Mental health
  • Condition-specific care (stroke and hip fracture)

We observe that the pressure of austerity did not impact on quality measures straight away, but took a few years to be felt. Authors conclude that further ‘delayed decline’ could occur in other aspects of care quality, such as effectiveness of treatment or patient safety, given the extent of the challenges faced and ongoing austerity in health and social care spending. 

QualityWatch annual statement 2016: infographic 23/10/2018

Page QualityWatch

Key findings from 'Quality at a cost', our 2016 annual statement.

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NHS vulnerable to serious lapses in care even as care quality improves in some areas, report warns 08/12/2016

Press release QualityWatch

Ongoing pressures risk making the health service more vulnerable to serious lapses in care.

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Suggested citation

Fisher E and others (2016) Quality at a cost. The Health Foundation and Nuffield Trust.