The Royal College of Physicians has responded to the latest NHS performance data, which reveals the total waiting list for treatment has reached another record high.
Dr Sarah Clarke, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said:
“Today’s NHS England performance data show the pressures across the health and care system remain at an all-time high, with the total waiting list figure now standing at 7.75 million.
“Despite the scale of the challenge, we welcome the remarkable efforts being made by NHS staff to move an additional 7% of people off the waiting list compared to August last year.
“The performance statistics also show the effects of pressures in the care system on our hospitals. While delayed discharge in hospitals due to availability of community services show an improvement from September last year, they worsened from in September 2023 compared to the previous month. That is why we have said that health and social care must be funded and staffed to work as equal partners.
“It is vital that addressing workforce pressures remain a top priority for the NHS and the government. Staff are central to bringing down waiting lists. Publication of the LTWP is encouraging, but there is still much more to do. The first step must be bringing ongoing industrial action to an end and we urge government to take the lead in this. We're heading into winter more fragile than ever with more than a million appointments now cancelled since the end of last year, and significantly more displaced.
“As we have consistently said, retention of the staff we have now is absolutely crucial to ensuring the health service was able to meet demand now and in the future. The NHS needs to become a more positive environment where healthcare professionals are respected, listened to, feel valued and are provided with the opportunities and infrastructure, such as well functioning IT, to succeed. Better support needs to be provided for time off for significant life events, flexible working, and the provision of necessary amenities such as readily available food and drink and staff spaces.”