NHS in ‘perpetual winter of Narnia’

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

The NHS is in a state of disarray caused by its continual failure meet targets set for performance and a record 3.9m patients on waiting lists for a variety of operations.

18 weeks is the amount of time that the NHS is supposed to treat operations within (referred to as ‘referral to treatment’ – RTT) and it is falling short of that standard. The target has been missed by what appears to be a small margin of 0.7% but the NHS holds itself to a high regard and would only have set the target if it thought it to be one which reflected the service levels that are expected of the service.

The issue of bed blocking continues to be of significant importance with an increase of almost 40,000 bed days year on year for the month of July 2015 (147,376) and July 2016 (184,188). This problem is one that needs to be addressed with the upmost urgency as unfortunately it forms a never-ending cycle. A shortage of beds, created through patients being fit yet unable to be discharged, directly affects across the full complement of NHS targets.

Claire Marx, president of the Royal College of Surgeons said of the failure to meet the 18 week RTT target: –

“It feels as if the NHS has stepped through the wardrobe and into the perpetual winter of Narnia…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. 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.”

This combines to form a picture of an NHS under continual pressure from which there appears to be no respite, more funding is certainly needed to help address this situation. In spite of this NHS England maintains that whilst the statistics fall short of their own targets they still outstrip the performance of every other comparable western nation.

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