Cause for concern

QualityWatch annual statement 2014

October 2014


Key points

  • Prompt access to services has declined in some settings over the last two years.
  • In mental health services, demand seems to be outstripping capacity for urgent care and for younger people.
  • The wellbeing of frontline staff in both health and social care is critical to good-quality care, but there are indicators that suggest increasing problems in this area.
  • Substantial inequalities in the provision and outcomes of care persist, and in many cases the information needed to analyse equity of care for marginalised groups is not available.
  • While some areas continue to improve, for example child health and cancer outcomes, the NHS still lags behind the best in the world.

In this second annual statement from the QualityWatch programme, in partnership with the Nuffield Trust, we draw on analysis of over 200 quality indicators and a series of in-depth research reports to provide an overview of how patterns of quality in services are changing across a range of care settings.

Our findings raise key questions in the continuing debate about health care quality:

  • At what point do the lapses in performance and quality become intolerable to patients, politicians or those running health and care services?
  • Which services, service users or patients should be targeted for support?
  • How do we measure success in the quality of care and how do we address the most significant gaps in information in the relevant areas?

As financial pressures continue to mount and the system works hard to accommodate rising demand, scrutiny of the quality of care delivered to patients and service users is now more vital than ever before.

About QualityWatch

QualityWatch is a major research programme from the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation, providing independent scrutiny into how the quality of health and social care is changing over time. For further resources and analysis from this programme of work, visit the dedicated QualityWatch website.

Further reading



A major research programme from the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation that provides independent scrutiny into how the ...

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