Trusts are committed to recovering performance against targets but there is significant gap to be filled
22 March 2019
- The National Audit Office (NAO) publishes its report on cancer and elective waiting times.
- It finds that while the NHS has increased the number of people it treats each year, the percentage of patients treated within waiting time standards continues to get worse for both elective (non-urgent care) and cancer treatment.
- It links declining waiting time performance to NHS staff shortages for diagnostic services, a lack of available beds and pressure on trusts from emergency care.
- It argues a growing and ageing population only accounts for a relatively small proportion of the increase in referrals for elective care and cancer.
The director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, Miriam Deakin said:
“As the NAO report points out, the NHS is continuously treating more people each year. An ageing population needing more complex care is an important factor behind the growing demand for all services, including emergency care.
“In this context of ever-growing demand, coupled with years of funding restraint and pressing workforce challenges, trusts are struggling to meet all of their targets. The need to prioritise urgent treatment for patients who are the most unwell or the most at risk has unfortunately left more patients waiting longer for routine and non-urgent surgery. However, it is right that the service continues to prioritise those with the greatest need.
The need to prioritise urgent treatment for patients who are the most unwell or the most at risk has unfortunately left more patients waiting longer for routine and non-urgent surgery .
“Trusts are committed to recovering performance against all of the key standards, but we must acknowledge that there is a significant gap between resources and current demand for services that needs to be filled.
“As we have seen over the winter, the health and care system is consistently running hot in terms of beds in use. But trusts have worked hard to get people out of hospital and into care settings in the community or closer to home faster. They have also taken measures to improve the flow of patients through hospital services and reduce the length of time patients stay in hospital.
“As we seek to implement the NHS long term plan we must be realistic about how far the available resources will stretch across competing priorities.”