With the publication of the NHS mandate we have already seen a flurry of activity around “RTT is not a key driver now, RTT needs to be managed, RTT needs to be maintained, RTT needs to be improved” - confusion rather than clarification seems to be the order of the day – Jeremy Hunt responded to this tweet - "will you ask @Jeremy_Hunt why waiting time targets have been dropped for 2018?" which is different to the mandate.
He replied “They haven't. Mandate is clear we will make measurable progress towards hitting both A&E and RTT targets next year...despite the pressures (and an NHS doing 6,000 more operations every day since 2010) we don't want 2 go back to the bad old days of permanently long waiting lists”.
Business as usual I feel. Fighting fires, under-resourced and needing to prioritise. My thoughts are, RTT was, and still is, a journey of improvement, that is strategic in its deployment and the culmination is still 2020 (and that IS in the mandate). So, NHS organisations need to adhere to their journey and hopefully will be on the right trajectory to hit 2020 targets.
It is inevitable that demands on resources and staff will be diverted away from RTT to other areas, Cancer for one, but the management eye must not be taken off the ball – the NHS will need to carry on swimming at the current pace or even quicker if it is to survive – not unlike the Great White Shark.
Trusts need to be assured that they are on track – is self-evaluation sufficient? Or is an independent review required to have absolute assurance? We must remember, that behind all the data, acronyms and RTT codes, are real patients, mothers, brothers, sisters with real issues, needing the appropriate treatment at the appropriate time. The NHS needs to be confident in its capability to deliver.
RTT is a necessary evil, providing effort and resource to achieve the standard will have tangible outcome and cost benefits for all within, and those using the NHS.
So, like the Great White Shark – Waiting List Management is a complex beast, that needs to be watched closely, for fear of biting hard, it must be fed regularly with training and validation, and kept on an ever-moving journey to achieve compliance for 2020.