Background: The Government has committed to increase spending on health by £12.5 billion in the next four years. At the same time the NHS has to save £20 billion from its budget. The Government argues that these savings can be made by increased efficiency but unions and campaigners have reported wide-spread cuts to health services and job losses. Nationally 45% of NHS expenditure is on older people, and women form the majority of this group, nationally and in Coventry.
The cuts and changes include:
- University Hospital in Walsgrave and Rugby St Cross face having to make at least £28.8 million of cuts over the next financial year following cuts of £28 million last year. George Elliot Hospital faces cuts of £6.8 million on top of cuts made last year.
- Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust, plans to cut its workforce by the equivalent of nearly 560 full-time posts – almost 20% of total staffing – between 2010 and 2013.
- The number of hospital beds available in Coventry has fallen in the last year and award in Rugby used by Coventry patients has been closed.
Individuals and groups interviewed for this report reported that these cuts and changes have led to:
- Increased waiting times for patients and problems travelling to other hospitals.
- Increased cancellation of appointments.
- Increased problems with discharges from hospitals without sufficient support for those requiring care or their carers.
- Increased pressure on staff and volunteers.
- Increased difficulty obtaining an appointment with a GP.
Older women will be disproportionately affected by cuts to spending on health because they are more frequent users of NHS services than other groups. Many of the distressing experiences of women interviewed for this report also raise human rights concerns including:
- Delays in treatment –This may mean patients suffering longer and may impact on eventual health outcomes.
- Inadequate Care in hospital – Staff shortages and increased pressures on staff as a result of cuts will risk the quality of care, which have already been raised as a concern nationally.
- Inadequate discharge procedures -Failure to properly assess care needs can lead to extreme distress, increased hospital re-admissions and worse health outcomes.