Austerity is damaging care, says CQC

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 The quality of care in England’s hospitals and nursing homes is suffering due to poor staffing levels and pressure on resources.

In its first general report on hospitals and social care facilities, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has warned that one in four care services are failing.

The most common failings were in relation to staffing, workforce skills and the welfare, nutrition and dignity of patients.

The regulator noted that financial pressures were resulting in hospitals and nursing homes being systematically under-staffed, with the result that care was not focused on the needs of the patient.

David Behan, CQC Chief Executive (pictured), commented: “Health and care services need to rise to the challenge of responding to the increasingly complex conditions suffered by our ageing population. That means delivering care that is based on the person’s needs, not care that suits the way organisations work.”

The CQC report follows reports that many hospital trusts are failing to meet financial targets and facing potential closures or takeovers.

Showing the other side of the coin, the quality and safety regulator’s findings echo the warnings of the Mid Staffordshire enquiry.

The report covered 291 health and social care providers of all types except GP services, which it will report on in 2013.

Of the providers inspected, the following had failed on at least one standard of care: 22% of NHS hospitals, 19% of private hospitals, 28% of care homes and 12% of dental practices.

In private hospitals, the CQC observed, the most serious failings related to mental health and learning disabilities.

One in six NHS hospitals (16%) lacked adequate staff levels, resulting in poor drug management and record keeping.

In addition, 15% of NHS hospitals did not meet the personal and dietary needs of elderly patients, while 10% did not respect their dignity.