With huge deficits, can under-pressure NHS Trusts really be expected to turn things around?

(12 June, 2019) Editorials

Is 'requires improvement' the new normal?

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It’s no coincidence that the areas where King’s College Hospital have taken a backwards step are those most under pressure from high demand and not enough funding.

King’s urgent care and accident and emergency is one of the busiest in London and – by extension – south east England, as anyone who goes through Denmark Hill on a Saturday night can testify.

A major trauma centre, King’s has some of the best doctors and surgeons in the country – if not the world – and boasts a leading pre-natal department that recently was one of the first globally to operate on an unborn baby with spina bifida.

Whereas maternity and end of life care are now ‘good’, urgent care requires improvement, as does surgery and outpatients.

Going through the evidence compiled by inspectors, it is clear that the trust has compassionate, well-qualified and trained staff but the consistency needed to hit the standards expected is lacking.

As one patient told inspectors from the Care Quality Commission: “King’s is a good hospital when you get in.

“My operation has been cancelled five times. I saw my consultant in March 2018 who said I needed an operation.”

They continued:?“My operation had been cancelled in June, August, November, and twice in December. I am finally here today and I hope it goes ahead.”

Many of us will have similar stories and be reluctant to place the blame on NHS dedicated staff and professionals.

The question is – when the trust’s deficit is £193 million and counting for the current financial year can it really turn things around?

Or will we have to accept that ‘requires improvement’ is the new normal?

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