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There Should be “Significant Doubt” Over Hospitals Reaching Their Targets

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NHS hospitals are finding it hard to maintain quality and avoid significant cuts according to the King’s Fund.

Half of all finance directors surveyed for the latest quarterly report on MHS performance expressed concern over meeting targets over the coming year.

Approximately a quarter of all 29 finance directors were worried that they could end up with a budget deficit for the year whilst struggling to maintain clinical standards.

Professor John Appleby, chief economist at the King’s Fund, added that there should be “significant doubt” over hospitals reaching their set targets.

Sir Richard Thompson, President of the Royal College of Physicians, said that “The NHS is now creaking at the seams, with the growing number of patients needing urgent care, including older people with multiple health problems. Our members are finding it difficult to cope with the increased demand for urgent care, and this has a knock-on effect on the ability of hospitals to cope with planned diagnostic tests, medical procedures and surgical operations.”

The figures will probably be worrying for Prime Minister David Cameron, who made maintaining NHS standards and keeping waiting times low a key personal pledge throughout his reform campaign promising patients that they would never have to wait longer than 18 weeks for treatment.

Fortunately, the report has shown that the number of patients waiting over 18 weeks has decreased, along with waiting times in accident and emergency wards. However, median waiting times overall have increased.

Prof Appleby continued, “While waiting times remain low in historical terms, the rise against key target measures since this time last year shows how difficult it will be for the NHS to meet the Prime Minister’s pledge to keep waiting times low as the spending squeeze begins to bite.”

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