RCoA response to long-term sustainability of the NHS

Responding to the House of Lords Select Committee Report “The Long-term Sustainability of the NHS and Adult Social Care”, Dr Liam Brennan, President of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, said:

“As anaesthetists, we have a clear duty to put our patients front and centre in every decision concerning their care. We should expect the same from government when they are planning the future of our NHS.

“This report on the long-term sustainability of the NHS highlights many of the issues we face as we seek to provide quality care for patients under ever-increasing pressure.  In particular, we are concerned that the NHS is being left to ‘take care of itself’ as long-term workforce planning is becoming a thing of the past.

“We are pleased the report acknowledges a number of the issues we have been raising on behalf of our members with government and senior leaders in the NHS. These include:

  • The need for increasing funding to reflect the spiralling costs of delivering care in a rapidly evolving healthcare system.
  • The need for long-term planning to ensure we have a well-trained, highly skilled workforce that meets the requirements of an ageing, growing population with more complex health needs.
  • The need to address workforce retention and improve morale, particularly among anaesthetists in training.
  • The need for new models of integrated care to improve outcomes for patients and utilise our resources more efficiently and effectively.

“The long-term vision for a tax-funded, free-at-the-point-of-use NHS is one we welcome.  Anaesthetists are at the centre of delivering high quality care in our hospitals.  16 per cent of all hospital consultants are anaesthetists and we are involved in the care of two-thirds of all inpatients.  Our members are committed to working in partnership with patients.  Through these partnerships, patients are empowered to make informed decisions about their own care.

“Research continues to show the effectiveness of the RCoA-led perioperative medicine strategy in improving patient outcomes.  As we look at ways to improve efficiency, we believe implementing perioperative medicine pathways in our hospitals can make a real difference.

The next steps for the NHS relies on getting the first step right, prevention.  ‘Pre-habilitation’ is a core part of the perioperative medicine pathway as we look to support a cultural change from ‘re-hab to pre-hab’, which can improve the quality of care we are providing and maximise the use of the healthcare budget.

“While we are pleased this report acknowledges the issues facing the long-term future of the NHS, it starkly highlights the glaring gap between what we need in order to deliver high quality patient care and what has been provided by successive governments. We welcome the acknowledgement that we can’t keep doing the same thing over and over, with fewer resources, and expect better results.

“We will carry on representing our members’ views to government and NHS leaders encouraging long-term planning to ensure a sustainable future for the NHS and better outcomes for patients.”

04 April 2017

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