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Waiting time target now being missed - comment

11 Feb 2016

NHS England performance data published today for December 2015 shows that the Government’s waiting time target for planned treatment has been missed for the first time since the target was introduced in April 2012. Every single surgical specialty (not including ophthalmology, and obstetrics and gynaecology) missed the target in this month. The statistics also show that during 2015 the number of days that patients were delayed from leaving hospital or other care settings increased by 12% since 2014.

Commenting on the statistics RCS President Clare Marx said:

‘Doctors in the NHS are working incredibly hard and surgeons delivered a record number of operations during 2015. It is therefore particularly disappointing that the NHS has now missed its waiting times target. In surgery, performance has been particularly affected for operations such as hip and knee replacements. Delayed treatment is extremely distressing to all patients. It is welcome that the Government has promised extra money in the comprehensive spending review but we also need a long-term sustainable plan to address the increasing numbers of patients needing surgery.

‘We are also increasingly concerned by the rising number of patients being delayed from leaving hospital to go home or alternative care environments. This not only places the patient at greater safety risk, such as falls, or immobility which can lead to infection, but also denies much needed hospital beds to others. The increasing delays are, it seems, partly due to the consequences of a reduction in spending on social care. We urgently need a political consensus on the funding of social care.’

Notes to editors

The full statistics can be found online.

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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