27 February 2012
Professor Norman Williams, RCS President, said: “We are pleased that the Government has recognised the risk that the ‘salami-slicing’ of NHS services poses to patients and the finances of the health service in the long term. Our members have been reporting for a long time that they are seeing restrictions of certain surgical treatments going on across the board, despite these operations being clinically in the best interest for the patient.
The NHS must not deny patients access to treatment as a means of saving money in the short term. This is detrimental to the patient’s quality of life and can be life threatening in some cases. Furthermore this approach can often lead to the patient requiring a more serious operation at a later date, which would end up costing the NHS and the taxpayer more money. We are pleased the Government acknowledges this approach is counter-productive and believes the Government should take action to stop this from happening.
We also welcome the renewed focus on local clinical leadership. The RCS has developed its own regional networks of surgeons to help deliver this focus. It is important however that decisions taken are evidence-based and that the rationing of services, ignoring guidelines on clinical best practice, does not occur to achieve short-term efficiencies.