The RCP has responded to the latest NHS monthly performance data.
Responding the data, Dr Sarah Clarke, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said:
“Hospital teams and clinicians focusing on reducing waits for those who have been waiting the longest for treatment has clearly brought some success, but we can’t celebrate yet. Waiting lists for NHS treatment are still at a record high and the system is under pressure.
“Fewer patients waiting for a diagnostic test in August compared to July is testament to the extremely hard work of healthcare staff, but the number of people waiting is still too high and significantly above 2021 levels. Some 45% of consultant physicians work excessive hours or have an excessive workload ‘almost always’ or ‘most of the time’, according to our census.
“Without a credible long-term workforce solution in place, we risk normalising long waits and compromising patient care. Staffing shortages are the biggest barrier to cutting waiting lists. The new secretary of state has promised a long-term workforce plan – this needs to come by the end of 2022 and include how many staff will be needed to keep pace with demand now and in future.
“But because of the urgency of the situation, the RCP is recommending a range of short- to medium-term solutions to keep the NHS delivering high-quality care.
“The measures set out in our new policy paper - from affordable childcare and flexible working to overseas recruitment and a new ‘retire and return’ deal for consultants - could all help to resolve the situation but we must act swiftly and decisively to ensure that the NHS will remain there for everyone who needs it."