Improvements to vital NHS services are “starting to go into reverse” in terms of quality and access, two health think tanks have warned.
The Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation warned on Friday that improvements to services such as the GP consultations, planned surgery and treatment in accident and emergency (A&E) departments are starting to deteriorate as a result of the pressures on the health service.
The study by the two trusts revealed that the number of patients forced to wait on trolleys before being admitted to hospital had soared 79 percent between 2010-11 and 2013-14. It also found that waiting times for planned treatment in one out of ten cases were exceeding the supposed 18-week maximum.
Their findings also suggest that it is getting harder for both children and adults to access mental health services quickly.
The warning by the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation will worry ministers, who have pledged to enhance the NHS care, especially with winter and next year’s election looming.
Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham described the report as a “proof that, despite what he claimed at Tory conference, NHS standards are dropping under [British Prime Minister] David Cameron.”
In an open letter earlier this week, Britain’s leading healthcare professionals warned that the NHS is at the “breaking point” and its “founding principles” are at risk.
The signatories, representing hundreds of thousands of doctors, nurses, and patients expressed concern that the country’s health and care system is “buckling under the twin crises” of rising patient demand and the government budget reforms during the recent years.
Under Cameron’s coalition government, the NHS has suffered the longest period of funding restraint in its 66-year history, resulting in the layoff of over 7,000 NHS clinical staff members, including doctors and nurses.