'Health and care services are at full stretch'
Despite some very real challenges, the quality of care has been maintained is the view of the Care Quality Commission's annual review of England's health and social care.
It says that "most of us are receiving good, safe care and many services that were previously rated inadequate have recognised inspection findings, made the necessary changes and improved."
The report highlights the importance of NHS staff: "The fact that quality has been maintained in the toughest climate most can remember is testament to the hard work and dedication of staff and leaders.
"However, as the system continues to struggle with increasingly complex demand, access and cost, future quality is precarious."
The report notes, "The complexity of demand for health care and adult social care services in England continues to rise and the number of people with complex, chronic or multiple conditions is increasing. We have an ageing population, and the total number of years people can expect to live in poorer health continues to rise. These and other factors present different pressures in different parts of the system."
Cancer treatment is highlighted because "there has been a fairly steady increase in the total number of people being treated following a GP referral, but they are having to wait longer for their treatment to start."
Charlotte Beardmore, the SCoR's director of professional policy, who was at the launch of the State of Care report said, "It is encouraging that the report and the CQC's chief executive Sir David Behan acknowledged the huge contribution that radiographers and other NHS staff make, but there is obvious and deep concern about how fragile the system is if investment is not made to fund sustainable change that will guarantee the ongoing standard of services and meet the ever growing demands for both diagnostic imaging and radiotherapy services.
"The report also emphasised the importance of local collaboration and joined-up care," Charlotte continued.
"Good leadership at all levels is absolutely key to drive improvements in care quality."