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RCS England comment on Sajid Javid’s speech on NHS reform

08 Mar 2022

Today the Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, gave a speech setting out his vision for long-term NHS reform. Commenting on this, Professor Neil Mortensen, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said: “The Secretary of State has clearly grasped the scale of the challenge facing the NHS as we restore services to pre-pandemic levels, and strive to bring down the huge backlog of operations.  We agree with his comments that ‘recovery and reform must go hand in hand’.  The Elective Recovery Plan backs innovations pioneered by surgical teams, who established surgical hubs where operations could safely continue.  Mr Javid’s faith in frontline staff and in local partnerships innovating to deliver reforms like surgical hubs is well-placed. 

“Most strikingly, his speech today conveyed his personal passion to address health inequalities.  Mr Javid said, ‘we can’t level up unless we level up in health’.  Surgeons whole-heartedly agree.  Long delays leave patients unable to work, at risk of deepening poverty and worsening health.  Waiting lists for hospital treatment are growing more quickly in deprived areas, where waits of a year of more for treatment are more common.1  That’s why Mr Javid’s push to eliminate long waits is so crucial, and surgeons are committed to supporting it. 

“The improved offer for long-waiters is welcome.  The ‘right to choose’ and commitment to proactively contact patients to offer them a trust nearby, or the independent sector, will be important.  In particular we welcome patients’ travel being paid for, so that those same patients who may need financial support to travel can take up this offer.

“The success of the recovery also depends on supporting the wider workforce, particularly those who are burnt-out from the experience of the last two years. The ‘proper long term workforce plan’ promised today must deliver answers to the long-standing issue of staff vacancies, and enable better workforce planning.  As Mr Javid said, ‘Our road to recovery begins with tackling the backlog’.  That entails reform, empowering patients with choice, and also supporting staff.”


Notes to editors

  1. The Kings Fund: Tackling the elective backlog – exploring the relationship between deprivation and waiting times | The King's Fund (]
  2. 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.
  3. For more information, please contact the RCS Press Office:

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