Two events this week foretold a crisis that will almost certainly hit the NHS before the general election in 2015. The first was Professor Sir Bruce Keogh’s review of failings in patient care at 14 hospitals in England. Among the many factors behind these failings, shortages of nurses and other frontline staff and the excessive use of temporary staff were some of the most important.
The second was the announcement that Barts Health NHS Trust in London, England’s largest hospital trust, is losing £2 million a week and is taking urgent action to balance its books. This includes cutting 1,000 staff out of a workforce of 15,000. The challenge for Barts, as for other trusts, will be to live within its means while maintaining high standards of patient care at a time of unprecedented financial pressures on the NHS.