Most NHS Trust leaders believe lack of investment is risking patient safety

Eight in 10 NHS trust leaders believe a lack of investment risks damaging patient safety, according to a survey.

More than 160 out of 200 chief executives and chief finance officers who responded to the NHS Providers survey said restricted funding poses a medium or high risk to patient safety.

Almost all (97%) respondents were worried about their trust’s need for capital investment, while 94% fear it is affecting patients’ experience of care.

NHS Providers said the Prime Minister’s recent capital announcement of £1.8 billion must only be considered as a “first down payment on the NHS’s needs”.

The body, which represents NHS hospital, mental health, community and ambulance services, is calling on the Government to address the challenge of capital funding in the forthcoming spending round.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it would be taking a “more strategic approach” in setting out the NHS’s long-term priorities.

Examples of the shortfall include Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which is seeing three times as many patients than it was built to treat safely, NHS Providers said.

The body said its “cramped and crowded facilities” were compromising the care of patients.

Its chief executive, Chris Hopson, said the budget for buildings and equipment had been “relentlessly squeezed” for years.

He said the UK has less than half the CT scanners per head of population than Latvia, Greece and Iceland.

Mr Hopson (pictured) said: “Paying for more doctors and nurses, newer treatments and more appointments and operations is vital.

“But what’s the point if NHS staff are trying to deliver care in buildings with leaky roofs and broken plumbing?

“If diagnostic tests and scans are being performed with outdated equipment? If patients with serious mental health conditions are being treated on wards built over 175 years ago?

“If the kit for paramedics is not up to date?”

He added: “We know the Government shares our aim of a properly funded and well-designed system of capital funding, but this support now needs to be translated into urgent action, because the risk to patients is rising every day.”

A DHSC spokesman said: “We recently gave the NHS an extra £1.8 billion of new funding to invest in frontline facilities, including 20 new hospital upgrades across the country.

“Over £1 billion of this funding is available this year to modernise facilities and provide world class care, bringing our capital spending limit for this financial year to over £7 billion.

“We’re also going to be taking a more strategic approach with a new health infrastructure plan that will set the priorities for the NHS over the long term.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) PA Wire.