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Comment on NHS England Chief Executive interview

09 Nov 2015

Commenting on the Health Service Journal interview with NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens, Miss Clare Marx, President of the Royal College of Surgeons said:

“Despite the financial pressures facing the NHS, more people than ever before are now treated and NHS staff have performed incredibly well in spite of the pressures. However cracks are appearing and in surgery, waiting times are starting to lengthen. There is also growing evidence of the rationing of care. The forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review is therefore arriving at a critical juncture for health and social care and major investment is required at the earliest opportunity.

“The NHS Five-Year Forward View rightly sets the NHS the challenge of meeting current patient needs while changing the way we deliver care - we know we cannot simply keep doing more of the same. For surgery this could be concentrating specialised surgery and ensuring the same standards and delivery of urgent and emergency care seven days a week. But without the right level of investment the Five-Year Forward View risks becoming just another plan that never gets delivered.

“Surgery plays a vital part in the health of the nation. Urgent and emergency care must be properly remunerated by a tariff which reflects the complexity of many of these surgical patients. In addition commissioners and trusts must recognise the very substantial individual health gain which result from elective surgery for operations such as hip and knee replacement, hernia repairs and severe glue ears, rather than trying to save money by restricting such operations.

“As hospital doctors we are especially keen for the government to provide extra funding for improved data systems in the NHS. It is shocking that parts of the NHS still use fax machines rather than secure methods of electronic communication. We desperately need a system which allows those caring for patients to quickly share and access vital information. We urge the government to act.

“With this Comprehensive Spending Review the government have the opportunity to signal to the NHS that the next five years are about transforming and improving the NHS, and not just continuing the struggle to maintain existing standards of care.”

Notes to editors

The Royal College of Surgeons of England is a professional membership organisation and registered charity, which exists to advance surgical standards and improve patient care.

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