Commenting today (07 February) on the issue of delayed plans to tackle the backlog of people waiting for NHS treatment, Dr Tim Cooksley, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said:
“The huge number of people on NHS waiting lists is an emergency which requires an urgent and coherent plan to ensure patients receive timely care, investigations and treatment. This is rightly at the forefront of current Government minds.
“It is imperative to remember that waiting lists and elective care plans will fail unless emergency care services are also at the heart of recovery plans.
“Overstretched acute medical services mean that elective beds are used for emergency patients. This exacerbates the problem with waiting lists and impacts those waiting for urgent investigations and surgical procedures.
“Elective care will never function satisfactorily if other parts of the service are under significant strain and we risk a vicious cycle when increased delays for non-urgent care result in deterioration which means these patients may then go on to require urgent care.
“Recovery plans require a whole system approach and it is essential that long-term solutions and innovations are considered to support emergency care alongside elective care.
“Workforce and capacity are two essential aspects in ensuring this is achieved.”