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RCS comments on updated NHS planning guidance

02 Feb 2018

NHS England and NHS Improvement have published planning guidance to the NHS for 2018/19. This notes the Government has made available a further £540m for the NHS on top of what was promised in the November Budget.

The planning guidance says that some of this money should be directed towards a substantially bigger annual increase in NHS-funded elective operations than in recent years. It expects the waiting list not to remain at the same level in March 2019 as at March 2018. 

Professor Derek Alderson, RCS President, said:

“Patients will welcome this decision to significantly increase the amount of surgery carried out in the NHS, particularly following the mass cancellation of non-urgent surgery over the winter. This seems like a sensible and practical solution to at least stabilise current waiting times for treatment.

“However, this plan admits that, even with last year’s funding increases, the NHS is still unable to meet current performance targets. This underlines the urgent need to produce a long-term sustainable funding plan for the health service. 

“With the NHS regularly running at 95% hospital bed occupancy during the winter, questions also remain about where we will find capacity to perform more operations. We encourage the NHS to consider opening more beds to enable operations to go ahead. Inevitably we will also need to look carefully at how we utilise immediate spare capacity in the private sector. This needs to be done in a way that does not undermine existing services or the training opportunities for young surgeons.”

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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