The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) has today [28th May 2021] called for action to combat the huge backlog of surgeries that were delayed owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The RCS have asked the government for an additional £1 billion for surgery every year for the next 5 years. They have also suggested the use of ‘surgical hubs’ where elective operations can still go ahead, even if there is a further outbreak of Covid-19. RCS report that 58% of adults say that it would be important to them to be treated in a ‘surgical hub’ separate to a hospital treating Covid-19 patients, if they required an operation.

The RCS have set out an action plan for reducing the surgical backlog in England and they call it ‘A New Deal for Surgery’.

The key recommendations made within their report are:

  • Continue the additional £1 billion funding for a further 5 years;

  • Publish an annual report setting out the government’s response to the elective backlog;

  • Make sure all Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) consider what measures are to be put in place to support patients facing long delays for surgery;

  • A long term aim to increase the number of hospital beds from 2.5 to 4.7 per 1000 people;

  • Build NHS capacity and reduce reliance on independent sectors;

  • Consolidate Covid-light sites in every region;

  • Widen the adoption of the ‘surgical hub’ model for additional and appropriate specialities, for example cancer;

  • A long term aim to increase the number of doctors from 2.8 to 3.5 per 1000 people;

  • Publish a regular assessment of healthcare workforce projections and requirements;

  • Allow surgical trainees to catch up on missed training opportunities asap;

  • Introduce statutory regulation for surgical care practitioners which could reassure the public and provide greater certainty to employers in respect of indemnity;

  • Staff wellbeing and retention is to be at the forefront of plans for elective recovery.

The full report can be viewed at Action Plan for the Recovery of Surgical Services in England (May 2021) — The Royal College of Surgeons of England (

There is no doubt that the NHS are facing a huge challenge to reach the millions of people currently waiting for surgical procedures and we will have to wait and see what response the government provides as to whether the NHS will be provided with the support and means to tackle the problem.

If you or a loved one has suffered a delay in treatment, diagnosis or surgery that has been detrimental to your health, our specialist team at Farleys are on hand to provide advice when you need it. Please call 0845 287 0939 to speak to one of our team or contact us via our website or through the online chat below.