The newly elected Conservative government faces an immediate challenge in keeping the NHS solvent in 2015-16 and a more fundamental challenge of transforming care to better meet the needs of an ageing population. It must also continue to improve patient safety and the quality of care without accentuating financial pressures facing NHS providers.
These challenges have to be tackled in the context of an NHS already struggling to meet key targets for patient care let alone fulfil new commitments, such as seven-day working. The additional funding made available in 2015-16 in the coalition government’s Autumn Statement is undoubtedly welcome, yet NHS providers are forecasting a deficit of almost £2 billion by the end of this year. Of equal concern is growing pressure on staff in a service where patient experience is strongly shaped by staff experience.