The NHS must protect waiting times for planned treatment and maintain access to evidence based care despite ongoing austerity, the outgoing chief inspector of hospitals has insisted.
Sir Mike Richards, one of the UK’s top medical leaders who has worked at the top level for more than a decade, is retiring at the end of this week.
He told HSJ in an exit interview: ”I would never support restricting access to evidence based care.”
Asked about concerns of national clinical leaders that clinical commissioning groups have introduced some restrictions on elective operations which they believe are not clinically justified, he said: “There are some patients who in the past may have had knee replacements who weren’t… likely to benefit from it, but where there is evidence for it I certainly want us to be able to deliver those treatments.”
He also warned that – with elective waiting lists and times growing – very long waits “mustn’t be allowed to happen again”.
Sir Mike added: “It is worth remembering about the 18 weeks, those that have been around long enough will remember, that why did they choose 18 weeks? Because it used to be 18 months, it is as simple as that. People used to wait 18 months for cardiac surgery.”
NHS England said in March that planned care was not one of the top priorities for the next two years, and that18 week elective waiting time target was, therefore, unlikely to be met.
Article from HSJ, 25 July 2017