'Nobody in the NHS wants people hanging on for ops, care and appointments'

Saffron Cordery profile picture

30 August 2022

Saffron Cordery
Deputy Chief Executive
NHS Providers

During the long, hot summer including a heatwave it has felt like the middle of winter right across the NHS, as services grapple with high levels of demand we expect to see later in the year.

So it's no surprise to see which people's priorities topped the Daily Express poll: reduce NHS staff shortages, reduce treatment backlogs, and reduce A&E and ambulance waiting times.

Nobody in the NHS wants people hanging on for ops, care and appointments. Long waits in extremely busy A&E departments are a symptom of pressure right across our health and care system.

Emergency services are stretched and under constant strain. Hospitals can't discharge patients who are well enough to continue their recovery at or closer to home as quickly as they'd like to, largely due to shortages of staff and funding in social care, particularly home care. This leaves wards full and ambulances queuing up outside A&E waiting to bring in more patients.

Hard graft and innovation by NHS trusts, managers and staff who are moving heaven and earth to ramp up activity is paying off. In July the list of people waiting two years or more for treatment was virtually eliminated – a major milestone in our post-pandemic recovery.

But there's a long way to go and demand for services still far outstrips capacity.

We must boost staff numbers fast. With more than 6 million people still on waiting lists and big backlogs in community and mental health care, chronic staff shortages – more than 100,00 vacancies just in NHS trusts alone – slow efforts to clear logjams. The government must come up with a long-term NHS workforce plan as soon as possible, and the money to make it happen.

All of these pressing issues, which the Daily Express poll shows matter to the public, should be high in the new prime minister's in-tray.

This blog was first published by the Daily Express

About the author

Saffron Cordery profile picture

Saffron Cordery
Deputy Chief Executive

Saffron is NHS Providers interim chief executive, part of the senior management team and sits on our board. She has extensive experience in policy development, influencing and communications and has worked in the healthcare sector since 2007. Before moving into healthcare, Saffron was head of public affairs at the Local Government Association, the voice of local councils in England. Her early career focused on influencing EU legislation and policy development, and she started working life in adult and community education.

She has a degree in Modern Languages from the University in Manchester, for ten years was a board member and then chair of a 16–19 college in Hampshire and is a trustee of GambleAware, a leading charity committed to minimising gambling-related harm. Read more