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Funding shortfall to hit waiting times

30 Nov 2017

At this morning’s NHS England board meeting the organisation warned that budget shortfalls will continue to hit waiting times for surgery and other types of planned treatment.

The board meeting was told that the Government’s Budget settlement means revenue growth per person will be 0.9% in 2018/19 but this will fall to -0.4% in 2019/20. NHS England has said this funding will mean “waiting times standards, in the round, will not be fully funded and met next year.” It said planned investment in mental health, cancer, and primary care will continue to be protected.

Responding to the Board meeting, Royal College of Surgeons President Professor Derek Alderson said:

“While last week’s Budget increase for NHS funding was welcome, NHS England’s analysis is clear that it is still insufficient to help meet the current needs of patients within existing targets. It is disappointing that the progress the whole NHS has made over the last decade on planned waiting times, such as for heart and brain surgery, now risks being lost.

“We accept that difficult decisions will need to be made but we believe more of the money released by the Government should be targeted at waiting times in the NHS before they deteriorate further.

“Rationing and delaying surgical treatment are false economies. For example, current commissioning group policies designed to delay surgical access for obese patients and smokers only defers treatment and potentially adds costs through increased use of painkillers, physiotherapy, and welfare support for out-of-work patients. The RCS does not accept that such policies either save money or help patients.

“We are prepared to continue working with the NHS to determine where genuine savings can be made where the evidence proves intervention does not benefit patient care. Such options have not yet been exhausted.

“Today’s publication of waiting times data in Northern Ireland, where tens of thousands of patients in a small population are waiting over a year of treatment, should serve as a warning to the wider UK on what happens when you deprioritise waiting times for planned surgery.

“We continue to call for the Government to support a review of the long-term funding needs of health and social care services in this country.”

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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