RNHA: Francis Report highlights link between funding and quality of care
Caring Times, April 2013
The need to slash spending on frontline patient services appears to have been one of the key factors behind the fall in vital care standards at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, it was claimed following publication of the Francis report on the underlying causes of the corporate and individual failings that led to so many unnecessary deaths.
The Registered Nursing Home Association (RNHA) said the financial pressures on the Mid Staffordshire Trust had been considerable as it prepared for foundation status. RNHA chief executive Frank Ursell said there was a direct link between the amount of money available for frontline services at any moment in time, the level of demand for those services, and the standards of care being provided.
“In the light of the Francis report, we in the long-term care sector are concerned on two fronts,” said Mr Ursell.
“First, we need to get the message across to the government that thousands of nursing and residential care homes across England are struggling as a result of cuts in public funding for the long-term care of older people. Indeed, since local authorities became responsible for purchasing residential and nursing home care in April 1993 we have seen a gradual, but persistent, downwards spiral in the real terms value of fees paid for care home placements.
“The problems faced by Southern Cross last year were firmly based in fee reductions by local authorities. In a marked similarity to the financial situation at Mid Staffs, care home owners are being placed under similar pressures to cut costs.
“Secondly, we fear a knee-jerk reaction from the Government that will enforce greater regulation on hospitals and care homes alike even though the two types of care providers are very different and despite a root cause of many of our problems lying in draconian cutbacks in public expenditure.
Mr Ursell said the Government needed to step back and ask fundamental questions about the impact that spending cuts are having, and will continue to have, on the health and well-being of the most vulnerable sections of the population.
“Let’s see a rebalancing of policies and attitudes that recognises the indivisible link between money and care standards.”