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RCP responds to the Health and Social Care Committee's report on clearing the backlog

The RCP has responded to the Health and Social Care Committee’s report, ‘Clearing the backlog caused by the pandemic’.

In response to the report, Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said:

"The NHS workforce has faced unprecedented demands during the pandemic and is key to our recovery from it. This report provides yet more evidence for why we need more staff and must begin training them now. It is also essential to do all we can to hold on to our existing staff, including by offering flexible working and embracing changes such as the move to virtual outpatient appointments. Such initiatives have been a lifeline for many patients and will be essential in tackling the backlog.

“The Health and Social Care Committee cautions against a numerical target driven approach to reducing waiting lists. We should be under no illusions that setting such targets when hospitals are understaffed and clinicians are under pressure may lead to mistakes and put patient safety at risk.

“There is much for the Government to act on here, including the recommendation for an independently verified analysis of how many, and what type, of extra beds the NHS needs, alongside a sustainable long-term plan for tackling delayed discharges. And in a week when the PM has accepted that some hospitals are overwhelmed, the Government must end its unreasonable resistance to publication of an independent assessment of workforce numbers every two years.

“The committee is right to call for a broad national health and care recovery plan. It must set out a clear vision for what ‘success’ in tackling the backlog will look like, and what people can expect care to look like locally in the coming years.”