The State of health and adult social care 2023 report, published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), adds to a growing sense that health and social care is in decline, with the most vulnerable and those at risk of inequalities being left behind. 

The vision of the NHS being a service free at point of use must be maintained. Every patient is entitled to the best quality care regardless of who they are or where they live. The harmful effect to people’s health of living with disadvantage has been recognised for years; it simply isn’t acceptable that the most disadvantaged receive poorer quality care or struggle to even access care.

This decline must be halted. We cannot allow a drift into a system in which those with financial resources – or willing to forgo other spending – pay to access basic care such as an appointment with a GP, but many of the most vulnerable patients see their access to care dwindle. 

Local health and care systems must do much more to address differences between communities in their areas and set clear and realistic goals – that is part of their reason for being. 

We share the CQC’s concerns about a healthcare workforce under stress. Along with harm to individual staff members, we are concerned this stress affects their abilities to work in partnership or even listen to patients.

Staff in the NHS are also affected by the state of adult social care and this report lays bare just how unstable that sector is. It is made very clear that social care needs urgent fixing and a fully funded national workforce strategy.  

This year’s State of care report makes for difficult reading, but we call on all leaders in the NHS – central and local systems – as well as the Government to read every word and take action. We cannot allow the normalisation of the level of care this report describes, with its lazy stereotypes, hardening inequalities and uncompassionate care.

 20th October