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Future of NHS ‘precarious’ with health services ‘at full stretch’ as regulator warns staff can’t work any harder

PUBLISHED: 12:00 12 October 2017

Healthcare services are operating 'at full stretch' according to a new report by NHS regulator the CQC.

Healthcare services are operating 'at full stretch' according to a new report by NHS regulator the CQC.


The NHS is ‘struggling to cope’ with demand as insufficient staff numbers paired with more patients than ever mean services are operating ‘at full stretch’.

The Care Quality Commission’s (CQC’s) State of Care report for 2016/17 says while the majority of people are getting good and safe care, the future of the NHS is ‘precarious’ as the system faces ‘increasingly complex demand’.

In Weston-super-Mare the effects of an overstretched system are being felt, with fewer nursing home beds available and a hospital which has been forced to temporarily close its A&E at night due to unsafe staffing levels, while GPs are also struggling to cope with demand.

South Western Ambulance Service is rated as requires improvement by the CQC, as is Weston General Hospital, while North Somerset’s GP and adult social care ratings sit in the middle 20 per cent of local authorities.

MORE: Lack of ambulance cover in Weston-super-Mare ‘playing with lives’.

The CQC says there could have been as much as a 10 per cent reduction in the number of nursing home beds since April 2017 – spelling trouble for North Somerset, which has a high proportion of elderly residents.

The CQC’s report commends NHS workers for ensuring the quality of care has been maintained, but stresses staff resilience ‘is not inexhaustible’.

It adds: “We know staff and leaders can’t work any harder. Everybody’s focus must now be on working more collaboratively.”

Commenting on the report, CQC chief executive Sir David Behan said: “The fact the quality of care has been maintained in the toughest climate most can remember is testament to the efforts of frontline staff, managers and leaders.

“We have seen improvements in safety in particular, although this area remains a big concern and focus for us.

“However, as people’s health and care needs change and become more complex, a model of care designed for the 20th century is at full stretch and struggling to cope with 21st century problems.”

MORE: Weston A&E closure: What is really happening behind the scenes?

A new vision for healthcare in North Somerset has been created, which includes putting more focus on NHS services working together and preventative care.

It could mean Weston’s A&E never re-opens fully, while its ITU beds and maternity services could also be lost to bigger hospitals.

But a care campus could be created at the hospital, which will offer GP services, and more cancer services could also return to Weston.

MORE: New NHS vision for ‘healthy Weston’ spells change for A&E and maternity services.

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