Routine operation waiting times should be NHS priority, says poll

8 Nov 18

The 18-week target for elective NHS treatment should be a priority when the health service receives its annual £20.5bn boost, according to 70% of British adults in a poll.

The poll, conducted by research body ComRes for NHS Partners Network, found that 69% of respondents believed waiting times should be met even with the NHS under significant financial pressure.

The 18-week ‘referral to treatment’ target – set up in 2004 – has been missed every month for the past two and a half years and the latest NHS figures show more than 530,000 people currently wait over 18 weeks for treatment.

In response to the findings, a coalition of health bodies have written to health secretary Matt Hancock demanding the government prioritise cutting waiting times for non-urgent treatment as part of the forthcoming NHS 10-year plan.

David Hare, chief executive of the NHS Partners Network, a signatory of the letter, said: “Too many people are currently subject to unacceptably long waits for procedures such as hip and knee operations which would greatly improve their quality of life.

“With the announcement of more money for the health service this year, patients will rightly be expecting to receive much better access to vital NHS care and the government must move quickly to getting the NHS back on track to meet the 18-week target.”

The letter was also signed by the Royal College of Surgeons, the Patients Association and the British Orthopaedic Association.

ComRes’ findings are based on interviews with 2,060 British adults aged 18+.

The prime minister said the 10-year plan must be produced by the NHS to coincide with new funding. She said the plan must “ensure every penny is well spent”. 

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