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Comment on the National Audit Office report on NHS backlogs and waiting times in England

02 Dec 2021

Commenting on the report by the National Audit Office, Mr Tim Mitchell, Vice President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said: 
“The NHS faces huge challenges as staff continue to treat COVID-19 patients, while trying to reduce the vast waiting list for planned care. The projection of how much the waiting list could increase to – 12 million by 2025 – is very worrying. However, much of this report will not come as a surprise to surgical teams working in hospitals up and down the country. 
“Frustrated patients who have been left waiting in pain for hip, knee, heart and other vital operations, want to know there is a plan to reduce waiting times. This is why we have called on the government to include clear guidance in its upcoming Elective Recovery Plan, setting out how hospitals can establish regional ‘surgical hubs’.  Surgical hubs separate planned surgery from emergency care to enable operations to continue safely if there are new strains of COVID-19 or outbreaks of winter flu.  Also we urge the government to amend the Health and Care Bill, to ensure there are independently verified assessments of workforce numbers. It will take investment both in surgical hubs and staff to bring waiting times down to acceptable levels.”


Notes to editors

The College’s New Deal for Surgery report , which is referenced in the NAO report, can be read here

Our New Deal for Surgery report calls on the Government to adopt the longer-term aims of increasing the number of hospital beds and doctors to reach the OECD average. This would involve expanding the number of hospital beds in England from 2.5 to 4.7 per 1,000 population - and the number of hospital doctors (including surgeons) from 2.8 to 3.5 per 1,000 population.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England is a professional membership organisation and registered charity. The College provides world-class education, assessment and development to more than 28,000 surgeons, dental professionals and members of the wider surgical and dental care teams, at all stages of their career. The College sets professional standards, facilitates research and champions the best outcomes for patients – with a vision to see excellent surgical care for everyone. 

For more information, please contact the RCS Press Office:

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