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Surgeons warn NHS has entered constant winter of Narnia

09 Sep 2016

NHS England performance data published today for July 2016 shows that the Government’s official waiting time target for planned treatment has been missed again. It is the worst official waiting times performance since 2011.

The data show that at the end of July 2016, 91.3% of patients waiting to start consultant-led elective treatment were waiting up to 18 weeks. The Government’s target is 92%. The number of delayed days for transfers of care also rose from 171,298 in June 2016 to 184,188 delayed days in July 2016. This month is the highest figure since monthly data was first collected in August 2010. The A&E four hour target has again been missed with only 90.3% of patients meeting the target.

Miss Clare Marx, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said:

“It feels as if the NHS has stepped through the wardrobe and into the perpetual winter of Narnia. The sorts of winter pressures on waiting times and accident and emergency services are continuing well into summer. We would usually expect an improvement in waiting times over the spring and summer months however the Government’s target for consultant-led referral to treatment waiting times has not been met since February.

“We cannot forget that behind these statistics are potentially very ill and anxious patients who are being made to wait far too long for treatment.  This is the true impact of the serious financial pressure we’ve seen the NHS come under in recent months.

“Bed capacity is also a major concern. Patients’ treatment is too often delayed because there is no space on wards for them after their operations. Unless the NHS and social care does more to help patients leave hospital sooner and the elective bed capacity increases, I fear we will not see waiting times improve.

“The forthcoming autumn statement offers an opportunity for the Government to provide more money for the NHS and social care, and to agree to a cross-party Commission to review how we can make the NHS sustainable for the long-term. Without a serious look at what the NHS needs in funding we will remain in a state of constant winter.”

Notes to editors

Full data available here

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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