That the quality of care has been maintained in the toughest climate most can remember is testament to the hard work and dedication of staff and leaders, although director of Radiology Management Solutions (RMS), William Bailey, says some very real challenges lie ahead. 
 
‘As systems struggle with increasingly complex demand, access and cost, future quality is precarious. The number of people with chronic or multiple conditions is increasing. An ageing population, and the total number of years people can expect to live in poorer health, is continuing to rise. 
 
All health and care staff, and the services they work for, are under huge pressure. 
 
The combination of greater demand and unfilled vacancies mean staff are working ever harder to deliver the quality of care that people have a right to expect. However, there is a limit to their resilience,’ continues Bailey. 
 
Acute hospitals face severe pressure 
 
There are fewer available beds in hospitals and people are waiting longer for treatment. Deterioration in the achievement of the four-hour emergency access target is a reflection of the severe pressures that acute hospitals face; it is no longer just a winter problem. 
 
‘I understand hospitals had plans in place to open at least 3,000 beds to help manage demand and minimise the risks to patients. 
 
If the expectations for reduced delayed transfers of care outlined by the government are achieved, this would free up a further 2,000 to 3,000 beds over the winter period,’ reveals Bailey. 
 
‘But the performance of hospitals has slumped with targets for cancer, A&E and planned operations now being missed en masse. Staff have described how shortages of doctors and nurses and a lack of money was making it difficult, sometimes impossible, to see patients quickly enough.’ 
 
RMS helps Trusts achieve their targets by increasing in-house capacity or by installing mobile MRI facilities, while maintaining existing high standards and adding significant value to prevent departmental fatigue. 
 
‘New Ofsted-style rankings show 76 per cent of NHS hospital Trusts have been given an overall rating of inadequate or requiring improvement,’ explains Bailey. 
 
Patient demand higher than ever 
 
The case for the NHS is straightforward. It does a good job for individual patients, offering high quality care for an ever-expanding range of conditions. At a time when the UK is tooling-up for a new trading relationship with the rest of the world, patient demand is higher than ever. 
 
‘In promoting the health of our children, vulnerable populations, working age adults and retirees and, as the principal domestic customer of the nation’s life sciences sector, the NHS helps fuel one of the industrial engines of our future economic growth,’ believes Bailey. 
 
‘As the NHS approaches its landmark 70th anniversary, it’s time to unleash the potential of innovation to transform patient care,’ says Simon Stevens, head of NHS England. 
 
RMS is one such innovator, with a more considered and cost-effective solution that will run your radiology departments beyond the working day, which is now making a difference at Trusts across northern England. 
 
Tel: 0161 410 0169 
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