Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:
“The coronavirus pandemic continues to present the greatest challenge that we have experienced in a generation and the NHS entered it in a far from perfect state with significant workforce vacancies, increased demand, a poorly resourced social care sector, and a lack of sustained capital investment.
“NHS leaders will be grateful to the regulator for highlighting where improvements are needed and for exposing the extremely turbulent conditions that their staff have to work within, which can affect their ability to provide even better services.
“The fact that yet again, the majority of services have been rated as good and outstanding is down to the hard work of frontline staff right across the country but the long-lasting impact of coronavirus could significantly derail this.
“We have seen how the NHS has innovated, collaborated and delivered for patients at a scale and pace never seen before and CQC has a vital role to play in supporting this to continue with a proportionate approach to regulation, which works with providers and their systems and does not add to their burdens.
“The evidence about the disproportionate impact that the first wave of coronavirus had on exacerbating inequalities is overwhelming, yet we are hurtling towards the second surge with the Government seeming to have learnt very little about it judging by its limited and slow action particularly in relation to test and trace. This could now have a devastating impact on communities and on the NHS’s ability to cope.
“In our recent survey, fewer than one in ten NHS leaders told us that their current funding allows them to deliver safe and effective services. CQC’s assessment must serve as a wake-up call to the Government to appropriately fund and resource the NHS and social care so that they can be equipped to deal with the aftermath from this pandemic, which will be felt for many years to come.”
Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Mental Health Network, which is part of the NHS Confederation, said:
“It is positive that the overall quality in mental health services has been maintained, but as demand is only likely to continue growing and with no additional resources on the horizon, there is a real danger that this will slip. Our members are doing all they can, but without additional support, there will be severe limitations.
“People with learning disabilities face some of the highest levels of health inequalities and their wellbeing must be protected. This finding reflects the need to improve pathways and community provision, as well as address ongoing workforce shortages.
“However, we must also stress that members have told us they are increasingly having to take patients that aren’t suitable, and they are struggling to transfer these patients into more appropriate settings, as there isn’t enough capacity in the NHS, which affects their ratings from the CQC. This makes the case even stronger for greater investment in the sector and the development of appropriate community provision.”