NHS Waiting Times in England – The Need For Improvement

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There are three categories in respect of NHS waiting time targets for treatment.  These cover A&E, Cancer and routine operations.

NHS waiting time targets for Cancer and A&E treatment have not been reached since December and July 2015 respectively. Routine care, which relates to hospital treatment being commenced within 18 weeks of referral from GP has not hit target since February 2016.

The sad truth is, and you don’t need to be an “expert” to work this out, the biggest and most important barrier to success has to be the lack of qualified staff and equipment.

Whichever political party gets into government after the 12 December 2019, needs to wake up to the reality of the NHS. They can pledge to throw as much money as they like into the system, but what is really needed is investment. Investment in training, investment in equipment, reinstated bursaries and other help for those studying to become a doctor, nurse or specialist within the NHS. It takes up to 5 years to train to be a doctor and 3 years to train to be a nurse. People just won’t take on these challenging roles if they are not given incentives to do so.

There are currently 100,000 vacancies for trained staff in England. However, there are still those dedicated, hardworking professionals within the NHS now who are not getting the support or the staff numbers they need to carry out their job effectively. The lack of staff just adds to the burgeoning effect on those having to plug the gap, which can lead to stress, mental health problems and end with time off work, which perpetuates the vicious circle.

Considering we are one of the wealthiest nations in the world why do we lag behind other developed countries in terms of treatment and success rates for diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as cancer? Perhaps the other countries take a more productive approach in investing in staff and equipment.

Amanda Cavanagh, a medical negligence specialist at Ashtons Legal, says: “Whatever your political persuasion, we can only hope that proper investment is ploughed back into the NHS to save this treasured and wonderful institute. Since 1948 we have provided care at the point of need. My greatest concern is that the decline will continue to such a point that the NHS can never recover”.

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