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RCS response to deteriorating waiting times for planned surgery

13 Apr 2017

NHS England performance data published today for February 2017 shows that there has been a 39.3% increase in the total number of patients waiting over 18 weeks for planned treatment since February 2016. The number of patients waiting longer than 18 weeks was 367,094. It has also now been a year since the 92% target for all patients to be seen within 18 weeks has been met.
At the end of March, NHS England announced it was removing the 18-week waiting time target for planned surgery from its list of priorities for the next 12 months. The data for February 2017 is not impacted by this announcement.
Responding to the increase in patients waiting for planned treatment, a Royal College of Surgeons spokesperson said:  
“Today’s performance data hammers home just how much waiting times have deteriorated in the last year. There are now 103,505 more patients waiting longer than 18 weeks for planned treatment than the same time last year.  It also begs the question, how long will waiting lists be at this time next year given NHS England’s decision to deprioritise the 18-week waiting time target for planned surgery?
“Whether you are a patient admitted to A&E for an unexpected illness or injury, or someone waiting to have a long term condition treated with surgery, at the end of the day, all you really want is to receive treatment as soon as possible.  
“The NHS is under extreme pressure, trying to manage the huge financial strain while treating more and more patients. While we welcome some of the initiatives NHS England announced last month to help with pressures on planned operations, deprioritising the 18-week waiting time target for planned surgery risks undoing much of the progress the NHS has made on reducing long waiting times over the last decade.”

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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