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NHS’s financial woes undermine quality and safety drive

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i4154 (Published 29 July 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4154
  1. Richard Vize
  1. London

The announcement by NHS England and NHS Improvement of a “reset” of NHS finances to try to cut deficits,1 2 as well as the accusation that 63 trusts were guilty of excessive growth in their pay bill, can be seen as the end of the policy drive around quality and safety that followed the Mid Staffordshire scandal.

When Jeremy Hunt succeeded Andrew Lansley as health secretary for England, his determination to obliterate discussion of health reforms by attacking Labour’s record on quality meant that clinicians and managers quickly concluded that running up deficits by recruiting staff was preferable to being identified as “the next Mid Staffs.” The safety debate quickly morphed into more staff being equated with higher care standards, while years of poor workforce planning and stagnating pay left trusts in a bidding war to employ unsustainable numbers of nurses and doctors through agencies.

Meanwhile, funding …

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