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NHS officially records worst performance against waiting time target

12 May 2016

Performance data by NHS England published today for March 2016 shows that the Government’s waiting time target for planned treatment achieved its worst performance since the target was introduced in April 2012. Every single surgical specialty (excluding ophthalmology and gynaecology) missed the 18-week waiting time target in this month. The statistics also show that the number of days that patients were delayed from leaving hospital or other care settings increased substantially, by 11.4%, from 2014/15 to 2015/16.

Commenting on the statistics, RCS President Miss Clare Marx, said:

“It is worrying that the NHS has again missed its waiting times target. It is extremely distressing for patients if their operation is delayed, especially if they are in pain or immobile.

“Dedicated frontline doctors and nurses are treating more patients than ever before. We welcome the extra money the Government promised in the Comprehensive Spending Review, but we still need a long-term plan to address the growing number of patients needing surgery, as well as a political consensus on how best to fund social care.

“We are also concerned by the 11.4 % increase in one year in the number of patients who have been delayed from being discharged from hospital, when they were ready to go home.

“This problem is increasing due to social care or district nursing services not being immediately available for vulnerable patients in their home.  We believe the underfunding of social care has contributed to this significantly.

“No one wants to be in hospital longer than they need to be and the knock-on effect is that those beds are then unavailable for patients who require medical care in hospital.”

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.

For more information, please contact the Press Office:


Referral to Treatment Waiting Time Targets (RTT) data show:

RTT target was missed. 91.5% of patients on the waiting list at the end of March 2016 had been waiting less than 18 weeks, thus not meeting the 92% standard. This is the lowest recorded performance since the standard was introduced in April 2012.

All the surgical specialties (except ophthalmology and gynaecology) missed the RTT target.

  • General surgery 88.0
  • Urology 90.8
  • Trauma and orthopaedics 88.1
  • ENT 90.8
  • Oral surgery 90.5
  • Neurosurgery 82.6
  • Plastic surgery 87.1
  • Cardiothoracic surgery 87.9
  • Ophthalmology 93.1
  • Gynaecology 92.9

Delayed transfers of care data shows:

Delayed transfers of care also reached a new high: There were 169,928 delayed days in March 2016 (compared to 140,390 in March 2015), the highest number of delayed days in a month since monthly data was first collected in August 2010.

This is a 21.0% increase from March 2015 to 2016, a 7.5% increase from February to March 2016, and an 11.4% increase from 2014/15 (1,624,977) to 2015/16 (1,809,883).

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