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Surgeons welcome report on clearing the backlog

06 Jan 2022

The House of Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee has today published a report into ‘Clearing the backlog caused by the pandemic’.  After giving evidence to the inquiry last year, the Royal College of Surgeons of England is welcoming the report and its recommendations.

Professor Neil Mortensen, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said:

“The report accurately reflects the scale of the challenge that surgical teams face, in reducing the backlog of planned operations.  It also identifies how workforce shortages continue to hamper these efforts. With Omicron surging, the main issue right now is that more than one in ten NHS staff are at home ill or isolating.  Staff absences and vacancies, make it very difficult to tackle the record backlog of operations that has built up over the pandemic.

“We must improve workforce planning, and fully support the Committee’s call for objective and independently-audited annual reports and workforce projections.  These should include an assessment of whether sufficient numbers of staff are being trained. The House of Lords has an opportunity to address this, by backing an amendment to the Health and Care Bill to make this law.

“With a record six million people waiting for hospital treatment, just keeping patients informed about what is happening with their operation is a massive task.  The Committee is right to call for better communication between NHS hospitals and patients waiting for vital surgery.  The impact of long waits can be devastating, as people are left ‘in limbo’. 

“In our evidence to the Committee, we urged them to back the establishment of surgical hubs in every region, to increase the volume of surgery that can be undertaken.  We are glad to see this reflected in today’s report.  Finally, we support the Committee’s recommendation that government should publish its Recovery Plan, including a clear vision for what ‘success’ in tackling the backlog will look like to patients.”


Notes to editors

1. NHS performance statistics published today are available here:

2. The Royal College of Surgeons of England is a professional membership organisation and registered charity. The College provides world-class education, assessment and development to more than 28,000 surgeons, dental professionals and members of the wider surgical and dental care teams, at all stages of their career. The College sets professional standards, facilitates research and champions the best outcomes for patients – with a vision to see excellent surgical care for everyone.

3. For more information, please contact the RCS England Press Office on: 020 7869 6052/6055. Or Email:; For out-of-hours media enquiries: 020 7869 6056



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