Tim Gardner, Senior Policy Fellow, at the Health Foundation commented:
‘Longer waits for hospital treatment reflect how large the gap has grown between the demand for NHS care and the funding available for NHS services over the past five years.
‘As more people have been referred for cancer tests and other kinds of hospital treatment, the number of staff and diagnostic machinery has not kept pace, resulting in longer waits, and more trusts missing their waiting time targets. Some of these increases in referrals are good news: higher numbers of urgent GP referrals for suspected cancer mean more people were diagnosed with cancer at an early stage, when the disease is more treatable.
‘Although more people are being treated than ever before, it is cold comfort for people anxiously awaiting a cancer diagnosis or spending longer in pain before inpatient surgery. The Committee’s report justifiably highlights the need to understand more about how the consequences of such delays impact on patient outcomes.
‘While the NHS Long Term Plan rightly argues for prevention, and better GP services and community-based care, this has to happen alongside meeting demand for hospital services. Meeting the needs of today’s patients and reducing ill health in the future requires significant investment in public health, workforce training and capital.
‘As the health service awaits the delayed 2019 Spending Review, it will struggle to both recover its waiting times targets and build the vision set out in The NHS Long Term Plan.’
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