Plans to move the National Health Service (NHS) to a seven-day service could be hampered by increased pressure on staff, coupled with £22 billion worth of further cuts, a report has warned.
The report from healthcare think tank The Nuffield Trust comes as Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced a clamp down on excessive NHS spending on agency staff.
The Nuffield Trust said Tory plans to cut spending and increase operating hours of the NHS could create staff burnout which “could hamper progress at a time of immense pressure on the NHS.”
The report calls for an overhaul of the current top-down organizational structure, saying the “narrow”goals are forcing distorted hospital priorities.
Nuffield Trust CEO Nigel Edwards said: “The NHS needs to hit very ambitious efficiency targets, at the same time as fundamentally changing the way care is delivered and moving to a seven-day service. That can only be done if it has the right staff in the right places. Yet there are not enough staff to fill gaps in key areas, and we are seeing clear signs of stress and disengagement.
“Already, the health service has been thrown off course by the massive bill for agency staffing because it can’t get enough permanent nurses to join hospital trusts. Solving these problems doesn’t just mean pledging more doctors and nurses. We need to use those we have more intelligently, so that they’re more ready to deal with the growing number of older people with very complicated health issues.”