It’s the NHS Confederation’s annual conference in Liverpool this week, so the papers are full of stories about its annual survey. Predictably, this finds that NHS managers are not a happy bunch, with a quarter saying they are facing the worst financial crisis they have ever faced and a third saying patient access and quality of care is already falling. Oh, and they don’t like the idea of having a new set of ‘Ofsted-style ratings’ applied to their services.
Anyone who covered the NHS during the truly dire days of the late 1990s, when the Major government was collapsing, hospitals were playing off health authorities and GP fundolders for cash for operations, and the demand for ‘cash releasing efficiency savings’ was so great that some trusts stopped cleaners climbing ladders to save a bob or two, might take the direr predictions with a grain of salt.
Having said that, there’s no New Labour government to ride to the rescue with billions of cash in its pocket this time. So the NHS certainly has some challenges to face. I explored this with NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar in an interview for EHI. And I’ll be at Confed itself on Wednesday and Thursday.