Welcome to the second in our series of reports that examines the state of the NHS provider sector. The timing of the report comes just weeks after the general election, with attention now turning to the key issues and challenges that need to be resolved over the course of this parliament.
Our latest assessment sets out to provide a valuable commentary on how the provider sector is performing, the challenges that trusts are facing, and the support they need as we head into another five years of what seems likely to be constrained funding increases and rapidly rising demand.
The report is a unique combination of our own policy analysis and commentary, published data and, most importantly, the views of the chairs and chief executives who run hospital, mental health, community and ambulance services in England. It is they who are responsible for ensuring their trusts provide outstanding patient care 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and they who are, therefore, best placed to identify key trends in the sector.
The centrepiece of this report is mental health. This is a critical area of care for the NHS, working in collaboration with a range of other public services, as well as now being a growing concern for wider society. There is a strong and welcome commitment from the top of government to address long-standing inequalities in care for people with mental health needs. We wanted to test progress with trust leaders on what was happening in the NHS mental health sector. The key finding – that core mental health services on the ground are under increasing pressure and at risk of deteriorating – should make compelling reading for politicians, system leaders and all those engaged in improving outcomes for people with mental health needs.
Alongside this, our report again covers key issues in the wider provider sector such as performance on quality, waiting times and finances; ensuring trusts have the right number, quality and mix of staff to deliver high-quality care; and how trusts are delivering much needed transformation. We are deliberately tracking the views of trust leaders on these key issues over time.
We are, once again, grateful to the trust chairs and chief executives who took the time to complete the survey and provide their views. The report would not be possible without them, and we hope our report does justice to their contributions.
Chief Executive, NHS Providers