Lasting changes to patient care hinge on leaders 'taking up gauntlet'


30 / 5 / 2013 4.10pm

Chief executive Mike Farrar makes his comments as the results of a survey of NHS chief executives and chairs, published today (3 June), reveal a mixture of challenges continuing to face the NHS, painting "some very worrying pictures". 

Serious concerns about the impact of financial pressures, not enough progress on integrated care and increasing demand for services are among the issues identified in the latest annual survey of NHS Confederation members. 

The results show that there is "serious concern about the underlying challenges facing the NHS and the pressures building on services" Mr Farrar said.

But the findings highlight recognition of the need to change the culture of the health service to rebuild public confidence in the wake of the Francis report.


Headline figures from the survey show that:

  • A substantial majority (61 per cent) of NHS leaders believe a culture change in the NHS is vital if the quality of care for patients is to improve.
  • 91 per cent say they have made 'good' or 'reasonable' progress in setting out how they will respond to the Francis inquiry's conclusions.
  • 40 per cent believe that quality of care will improve over the next 12 months.
  • The vast majority (84 per cent) are confident that they will meet their savings targets over the next 12 months.
  • 93 per cent said that only 'slight progress' or 'no progress' is being made to integrate care; 61 per cent said this lack of integration will lead to services becoming unsustainable.
  • Financial pressures facing organisations are serious for the substantial majority of respondents (62 per cent), with over one in five NHS leaders describing the pressures facing their organisation as the worst they have ever experienced. 
  • 83 per cent believe that financial pressures on their organisations will increase over the next 12 months.
  • 50 per cent believe that financial pressures have affected waiting times and access to care in the past 12 months.
  • 70 per cent believe that waiting times and access will be affected in next 12 months as a result of financial pressures.

See the survey findings in full.

Addressing challenges

The survey comes ahead of the NHS Confederation's annual exhibition and conference later this week, which will gather the whole NHS for the first time since the formal establishment of the new system, to address the challenges facing the health service.  

Real and lasting changes

Speaking ahead of the conference, Mr Farrar said: "NHS leaders clearly get the message that there needs to be real and lasting changes to improve the way we provide care and the way we involve patients and the public in all aspects of their care.

"The poor care highlighted by the Francis inquiry was a wake up call to us all – we have to raise our game and commit ourselves to changing the culture of the NHS, being more open and transparent, genuinely listening to patients and their families when they raise concerns, and taking action to remedy our ills.

Necessary change

Commenting on the issue of service change, he said:"In the short term the NHS is holding it together. But the sticking plasters on the creaking parts of the system will only last so long. We are already seeing the pressures on our A&Es bubbling over. Change is absolutely necessary if the NHS is to remain fit for the future – the risks of not doing so are simply too great to ignore.

"Effective long-term change will require NHS leaders, with the support of the public and politicians, to take up the gauntlet and see through some radical changes to the way we deliver care. It is up to us all – NHS staff, the public, patients, Government, and local and national politicians –  to acknowledge the challenges and pressures we face and engage with delivering the solutions."

Collective action

Mr Farrar added that:"People working in the NHS genuinely want to improve the care patients receive, in a way that is sustainable in the long term. Making these changes won't be easy, but as the survey shows, unless we take collective action now, we will all be worse off."

Find out more

Download the NHS Confederation member survey 2013 and read the press release.

Find out more about financial pressures facing the NHS, the Francis report and our work to support members.

Discover more about this week's NHS Confederation's annual conference and exhibition in Liverpool.

Join the conference conversation

You can join the conference conversation by;

Why Register?

Great reasons to register with NHS Confederation

  • Personalise your website
    Select topics of interest for recommended content
  • Bookmark useful pages
    Quickly and easily find what you need
  • Comment and recommend
    Rate and share content with colleagues
  • Plus, for our members
    Access member-only resources and tailor member benefits and services

Sounds great, what next?

Register Now

Not now, I will register later

Log In

To book events and access member only content you need to register with us.  This only takes a moment via our registration page. If you have already registered login using your email address and password below.