Patients are being left to die in pain because NHS treatment is being rationed, a shocking new report has found.
Palliative care patients are being left for hours without treatment due to nurse shortages caused by budget cuts, the King’s Fund said.
The think tank’s report said there are long delays for operations such as hip replacements and that patients are also being affected by community nursing cuts.
The study investigated four areas which have been hit by fund rationing: district nursing, neonatal care, hip operations and sexual health.
Services were described as being under “significant financial pressure”, with funding either remaining the same or being cut, despite increasing demand.
One hospice manager told the report’s authors, “The district nurses working at night are not able to give effective response times.
“You can wait up to eight hours… for patients experiencing pain and discomfort in the last two to three days of their life, it has a massive impact.”
District nursing numbers fell by almost half between 2000 and 2014, with an added drop of 15 percent between 2014 and 2016 for full time positions.
As well as severely disrupting district nursing and hospice services the study found the fall in nurses was also impacting on GP services and carers.
District nurses are often working “significantly over their contracted hours” and have unmanageable workloads, the report said.
Neonatal, sexual health and hip replacement services were also under pressure because of severe funding cuts, the report found.
A Department of Health spokesperson denied that there was “inappropriate rationing” in the NHS and said the government was investing £10bn into health services.
However the report stated that “the current rate of funding growth is not sufficient to cover growing demand”.
Report author Ruth Robertson said, “Our research shows that services like district nursing and sexual health, where we found evidence that access and quality are deteriorating for some patients, have been hardest hit by the financial pressures facing the NHS, but this is often going unseen.”
Unite national officer for health, Sarah Carpenter, said the Tories should “hang their heads in shame” over the report’s findings.
She said, “The answer to the horrific circumstances – including dying people left in pain because they can’t get the palliative care they need – detailed in this report is simple: Give the NHS the funding its needs to run.
“The Tories should hang their heads in shame that patients are needlessly suffering because the government has pushed the NHS to breaking point by deliberately underfunding services.”