NHS trusts say cost of living crisis has worsened public health

Almost all NHS trusts in England said the health of the public has worsened in their area due to rising costs, according to new research.

Reported by The Guardian, the survey was conducted between February and March of this year. More than 70 trusts took part, including acute, ambulance, community and mental health.

More than nine in 10 (96%) NHS trusts surveyed reported that the cost of living crisis had worsened health in their local area. In addition, more than half said the decrease had been ‘significant’.

More than half (51%) also reported that there was a lack of funding for schemes tackling health inequalities in their area.

Alex Whitfield is the chief executive of Hampshire hospitals NHS foundation trust. She said the cost of living crisis was impacting the ‘mental, physical and financial wellbeing’ of both staff and local communities.

She added: ‘As well as increased demand on our services, we are seeing more people with complex social circumstances presenting at our hospitals.’

The survey also unveiled other challenges, such as people who cannot afford to eat properly or heat their homes arriving in hospital more unwell than they would have been otherwise, as well an increased demand in patients trying to access local mental health services.

Changing role

This comes as the Nuffield Trust reports a ‘relentless drift to the private sector’ within UK healthcare and dentistry.

Published on 16 May, the Nuffield Trust report explores the changing role of the private sector in UK healthcare.

The trust described ‘serious problems with access to care, workforce relations and financial stability’ in state-run health services. It said this has led many to perceive, fear or argue for a greater role for the private sector.

It also analysed the amount of NHS budget spent on care conducted in facilities not owned by the NHS. This includes NHS dentistry delivered through the UDA system.

According to the report the proportion of NHS spending dedicated to dentistry has declined from 2.9% in 2009/10 to 1.6% in 2022/3.

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