Elective surgery targets scrapped in favour of better cancer and A&E services

BMJ 2017; 356 doi: (Published 31 March 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j1652
  1. Adrian O’Dowd,
  2. Gareth Iacobucci
  1. London

Targets on waiting times for elective surgery have been abandoned for the foreseeable future, so that the NHS in England can focus on services in most need of improvement, including emergency care and cancer treatment, show new plans.

A report from NHS England charts “practical and realistic” steps to improve the NHS over the next two years, including new targets on access to primary care, emergency care, cancer treatment, and growing the workforce.1

The report, which follows on from the NHS Five Year Forward View published in 2014,2 spells out changes that are due to take place across the health service in England, including:

  • Improved care of patients with cancer, aimed at saving an extra 5000 lives a year through new one-stop testing centres, screening programmes, and state of the art radiotherapy machines

  • Better access to GP services (box 1), with extended opening in the evenings and weekends, newly designated urgent treatment centres, and an enhanced telephone 111 service to ease pressure on emergency departments

  • Increased mental health services, with more beds for children and teenagers to reduce the need for care out of their areas, more beds for new mothers, and more mental health professionals in the community and in hospitals, to prevent crisis admissions, and

  • Better care for older people by bringing together services provided by GPs, hospitals, therapists, nurses and care staff, cutting emergency admissions to hospital and time spent in hospitals.

Box 1: Key improvements planned for general practice

  • Practices will be encouraged to work together in primary care “hubs” or networks, …

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