Its all been so predictable. Just read back to the first posting, and the “about” from NHSreality some 3 years ago!
The NHS is like a train about to crash, leading health economists warned yesterday.
Analysts from the King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation said that the NHS was under severe pressure, with hospital overspending this year likely to hit £2 billion.
Anita Charlesworth, chief economist at the Health Foundation, said: “The NHS is massively overspending . . . and yet everything is carrying on. It is that moment before the train crashes, where actually everything is sort of oddly calm, but in the end you can’t overspend by that amount and it not have consequences.”
She said that there appeared to be a “massive gulf” between “the reality for hospitals up and down the country” and discussions at the top of the system about priorities such as seven-day services, “not actually articulating a plan for how on earth we get through the next 18 months”.
She added: “That’s one of the reasons, I think, we are seeing chief executives leaving these trusts because they don’t feel supported to address what is for them their burning challenge.”
Dr Keith McNeil, the chief executive of Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge, resigned, saying that in the light of “a number of very serious challenges . . . including a growing financial deficit” he felt “the time is right to have new leadership in place”.
Yesterday it also emerged that the hospital had blamed budget cuts for its decision to stop providing ice for patients’ water jugs.
Michelle Lewis discovered the move while visiting Addenbrooke’s when she asked for ice for her friend’s water on an oncology ward as the friend finds it easier to swallow her pills with iced water.
Ms Lewis was “horrified and gobsmacked” when two healthcare workers and a member of catering staff told her ice had been removed from jugs “because of budget cuts”.
The hospital, which has a deficit of about £1.2 million per week, said the move would save almost £40,000 per year. Ice was “still freely available for clinical use only”, including mouth care and ice packs, a spokesman said.
Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust, said it would be “heroic” if the NHS did manage to deliver the £22 billion savings by 2020 called for a year ago in an NHS plan.
Meanwhile, MPs were told yesterday that doctors and nurses were walking past dying patients because they did not know how to help them or did not realise they were dying.
Professor Irene Higginson, a specialist in palliative care at King’s College, made the claim to the public administration and constitutional affairs select committee. She said 20 hours’ training for end-of-life care at medical school was “far too little”.