• CQC warns some parts of the country only have poor services for patients
  • Regulator warns government social care crisis could undermine NHS funding plan
  • 40 per cent of NHS acute hospital services rated requires improvement on safety

Patients in some parts of the country now only have access to providers delivering poor services, according to the Care Quality Commission’s annual assessment of healthcare quality in England.

In a stark warning of how some areas are falling behind, the CQC’s latest State of Care report lays bare the pressures on the NHS, mental health, primary care and adult social care services with the regulator warning that poor integration is a significant factor.

The watchdog has also warned the government that the £20bn long term funding for the NHS could be undermined without a similar long term settlement for social care.

Overall, across the country the CQC said quality had been maintained compared with last year, despite pressures from increased demand, poor funding and workforce shortages.

It said: “It is clear that people’s experience of care varies depending on where they live; and that these experiences are often determined by how well different parts of local systems work together.

“Some people can easily access good care, while others cannot access the services they need, experience ‘disjointed’ care, or only have access to providers with poor services.”

The State of Care report is drawn from inspections of more than 30,000 services as well as more than 20 local system reviews carried out by the regulator.

In the report it said safety was the biggest concern, adding: “There were improvements in safety in adult social care services and among GP practices. But while there were also small safety improvements in NHS acute hospitals, too many need to do better, with 40 per cent of core services rated as requires improvement and 3 per cent rated as inadequate.

“NHS mental health services also need to improve substantially, with 37 per cent of core services rated as requires improvement and 2 per cent as inadequate.”

The CQC said accident and emergency departments were where pressures on the system were the most visible but that these often linked to the quality of local social care and community services.

“A struggling local hospital can be symptomatic of a struggling local healthcare system. This indicates that – although good and outstanding primary care is more evenly distributed – there are parts of the country where people are less likely to get good care.”

In mental health, the CQC found people were still being sent hundreds of miles away from their home area but that this varied considerably between different regions.

On social care funding, the CQC said today: “While the government made a welcome NHS funding announcement in June 2018, the impact of this, and last week’s short term crisis funding for adult social care, risks being undermined by the lack of a long term funding solution for social care.”

CQC chairman Peter Wyman said the “tipping point” in the adult social care market, which CQC warned about two years ago, “has already been reached for some people who are not getting the good quality care they need.”

New CQC chief executive Ian Trenholm said: “There need to be incentives that bring local health and care leaders together, rather than drive them apart.

“The challenge for Parliament, national and local leaders and providers is to change the way services are funded, the way they work together and how and where people are cared for and supported. The alternative is a future in which care injustice will increase and where some people will be failed by the services that are meant to support them, with their health and quality of life suffering as result.”