Quarter of social care services understaffed

By Charles Maggs

Twenty-three per cent of care homes do not have adequate staffing levels, according to a report published today.

Many NHS trusts are struggling to cope with the added demands of an aging population, meaning more patients suffering from multiple illnesses, according to the latest Care Quality Commission (CQC) report.

It found 15% of NHS hospitals do not provide services that treat patients with adequate levels of respect.

"Health and care services need to rise to the challenge of responding to the increasingly complex conditions suffered by our ageing population," said Dave Behan, CQC chief executive.

"That means delivering care that is based on the person's needs, not care that suits the way organisations work. It also means that different services need to work well together in an integrated way that meets the best interests of the people who use these services."

Over 13,000 inspections were made in compiling the report, which said that the demand for home care nursing was growing rapidly.

But Behan was careful not to suggest that money was an issue in the provision of better care.

"The same financial climate exists for those providing that good care, the nine out of ten providing the good care on dignity, and therefore it exposes and shines a light on where that care is not acceptable," he told the Today programme.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt accepted there were challenges, telling BBC Breakfast:

"There are financial pressures throughout the system, let's be absolutely clear about that, but there are lots of places who are dealing with those financial pressures without compromising the quality of care."

But shadow health secretary Jamie Reed blamed the government for low staffing levels.

"The Care Quality Commission is right to say patients are paying the price for falling staffing levels in care homes, nursing homes and hospitals," he said.

"Figures this week showed that over seven thousand hospital nursing jobs have been axed since David Cameron entered Downing Street, with almost 1,000 in the last month alone."