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Savings not standards are priority, finds survey

Savings not standards are priority, finds survey

Clinical commissioning is making an impact but efficiency savings are more important than improving patient care, health professionals report.

Posted: 10 September 2014

Efficiency savings are the top priority of many NHS organizations with improving patient care ranked in second place, finds a survey conducted by Dods, a provider of public sector and political research, surveys and polls. Only 5% of health professionals surveyed said they think the health reforms have had a positive impact.

Using an online questionnaire Dods surveyed 3,628 health staff about their experiences of the reforms, the organisations driving change, and their expectations for the next 12 months. NHS staff reported they are under heavy financial pressure. Only 2% said their organisation had sufficient financial resource to support their organisation.

Despite the financial shortcomings the survey found that efforts to foster more joined-up services and collaboration are working well in some areas, with 52% of respondents saying Clinical Commissioning Groups are ‘driving change a lot’. NHS England, the Care Quality Commission and Parliamentarians were ranked behind CCGs.

David Bowers, Senior Research Manager, Dods, said, ‘The survey shows a clear tension within the health service surrounding the need to make efficiency savings, while at the same time maintaining and improving standards of care. This is very much an issue in the minds of health professionals whose commitment to patient care remains steadfast’.

Dr Amanda Doyle, Co-chair of NHS Clinical Commissioners and Chief Clinical Officer for NHS Blackpool CCG, said Dods’ Health Reforms: a Check-up report ‘recognises the important role that clinical commissioners now play in the wider health system, bringing new and innovative approaches to better healthcare for their local populations. We welcome the report's finding that CCGs are offering new local solutions to the system and are also a strong driver for change that engage and interact with key partners right across the health economy. However the report also reflects a number of the challenges our members face. Key amongst those is the financial pressures facing CCGs’.

As part of the research Dods asked 100 MPs for their opinions on the reforms. Results show MPs’ attitudes to the impact of the reforms are split down party lines - 39 MPs said the impact of the reforms had been negative, of which 78% were Labour and 10% Conservative. No Labour MP said the impact of the reforms had been positive. Dods said the report highlights the tensions that need to be addressed if the reforms are ultimately to succeed.

Dr Doyle said, ‘The intention of the NHS reforms was to put local clinical experts at the heart of local decision making. Politicians need to trust in those original ambitions and give clinicians the freedom, space and time to work with their local community to determine the best possible outcomes for their patients’.