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RCS Statement: Response to Health Select Committee report into Public Expenditure

24 January 2012

Professor Norman Williams, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said:

“This report confirms what surgeons have been experiencing for some time – in too many parts of the country patients are being denied access to elective operations they should expect to receive on the basis of short-term and short-sighted cost cutting. We have seen lists of forbidden procedures, pressure applied to GPs not to refer, blocks in referrals by third-parties and higher thresholds set before treatment is offered all of which have had a negative effect on patients. Cutting activity to balance the finances for the current year is a strategy that guarantees failure as those patients conditions worsen and the NHS eventually picks up the higher costs of emergency admissions or more complicated co-morbidity.

The RCS believes that there are some areas of surgery where there is a strong clinical argument for concentrating services in fewer units rather than attempting to offer all forms of surgery in every hospital – focusing on such a national level reorganisation would offer better quality treatment to patients and save money. But it must be directed to ensure all patients get optimal access and not left to random mergers of hospitals due to financial stress.”