NHS 'does not need more money to improve'

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Chief Inspector of Hospitals Sir Mike Richards tells Today care can be improved without "extra funds"

The NHS does not necessarily need more money to improve care, the outgoing chief inspector of hospitals in England, Prof Sir Mike Richards, says.

Sir Mike said there were more cost-effective ways of running the service, such as ending the use of what he called "very expensive" agency nurses.

There was "no doubt" the NHS needed more money, he said.

But any injection of funds should be used to transform the way the health service was run.

Sir Mike told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "There is no doubt the NHS needs more money, because of increasing demand on it and the need to transform services.

"But it's also true, as we have seen, that things can be done better without more money, and that's what we are encouraging alongside saying, 'Yes, we will need more money.'"

Sir Mike called for:

  • more beds in the care sector
  • lessons to be learned from errors
  • the NHS to spend money on a "transformation agenda"

"What we have seen in our inspections is an awful lot can be done, even at times of austerity when the money hasn't been coming through fast," he said.

"We have seen a number of hospitals actually getting better during that time, a number of mental health trusts getting better because they have focused on what really matters to patients, on patient safety and on the whole leadership agenda within these hospitals in order to engage their staff and deliver better care."

Image source, Thinkstock

Earlier this year, Sir Mike said the NHS "stands on a burning platform", with safety at four in five hospital trusts in England not being good enough.

He told the BBC: "What I meant by that, is the number of people coming to [accident and emergency] departments is going up, the number of people being admitted from A&E departments is going up, the difficulty in getting patients out of hospital again at the other end is going up.

"All of those create a burning platform where we need to transform the way we deliver emergency care.

"We need far greater integration between GPs, hospitals, care homes, community health services, to make that work."

Sir Mike also told Today that Brexit posed a threat to recruitment in the NHS, which had to be addressed.

"If we are leaving the EU, there is a threat to that, which we need to make sure is being dealt with so that we aren't losing staff and we can then replace them and, if necessary, to grow our own, if you like."

Sir Mike is stepping down from his role at the at the Care Quality Commission at the end of the week.

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