Responding to the health and social care secretary, Dr Thérèse Coffey’s statement on the government’s ‘plan for patients’, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:
“We are now just weeks away from what will be one of the toughest winters the NHS has ever faced.
“While healthcare leaders welcome many of the new and repeated commitments contained within the Secretary of State’s emergency plan, put simply they do not go far enough.
“Although it comes at the eleventh hour, the government has rightly heeded our calls to reinstate central ‘discharge to assess’ funding this winter. However, NHS leaders will need rapid clarification on how much of this £500m fund is additional investment and how much is to be found from existing budgets.
“They will also welcome the Secretary of State’s commitment to significant changes to pensions arrangements – an issue on which the NHS Confederation has previously written to the Chancellor. The changes will help allay the current pensions crisis preventing many senior medical staff from taking on additional shift work, which in turn has been hampering efforts to bring down waiting times.
“However, the government has failed to address the urgent need to boost social care pay to help with recruitment and retention in a sector that has at least 165,000 vacancies, something which would alleviate huge NHS pressures. We repeat our call for a higher minimum wage for care workers.
“Failing adequately to address the lack of capacity in social care, combined with the complete and glaring absence of a workforce plan to address the staffing crisis in the NHS which now tops 132,000 means the risks to patients of the NHS and care system being unable to meet even urgent demand this winter continues to be substantial.”