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Why Strikes May Make Referral To Treatment Process Even More Important

The importance of RTT validation roles is never greater than when the NHS is stretched, as it invariably is every winter.


Making sure referrals to treatment are appropriate and timely is critical in prioritising operations and other treatments at times when resources are limited and making sure nothing is wasted on those who do not need a particular treatment.


Winter is always a time when this is true, given that it is flu season and spells of very cold weather such as has occurred in December will bring extra problems such as hospitalisation for hypothermia and weather-related accidents. Covid, as ever, threatens to add to the burden and the pandemic has created a backlog of operations.


All this may be exacerbated by the unprecedented strike action taken by nurses. Never before has the NHS had to contend with frontline nursing staff taking industrial action and this has come at a time of heavy pressure, with health service administrators needing to prioritise emergency care.


With the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) demanding a 19 per cent pay rise and no pay offer approaching this on the table from either the UK or Welsh governments, it is likely that the strikes will continue, increasing treatment backlogs.


RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: “For many of us, this is our first time striking and our emotions are really mixed.”


She said the body had appealed to health secretary Steve Barclay to come to the table, but lamented that no such government initiative had taken place. Ms Cullen said that the December strike action will not be the last unless there is a change in the government’s position and a significant improvement in the pay on offer.


In Scotland, proposed strike action has been suspended as ministers from the devolved administration at Holyrood have entered into further pay talks and made a revised offer.

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