Healthcare groups have warned that many surgeons find themselves at a loose end due due to delays of operations caused by bed blocking.
The lack of social care provision for elderly patients is beginning to seriously hamper the NHS to deliver surgery.
Clare Marx, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, believes that cuts to healthcare services are having a significant impact over productivity.
“Because of bed shortages, staff including surgeons are now sometimes left kicking their heels, waiting for beds to become available so they can operate. Too often managers, nurses and doctors waste time trying to find somewhere to look after patients. At a time when the NHS is being told to make the most of its resources, this is a shocking waste.”
And Marx asserts that a lack of social care will only cause this issue to escalate in the foreseeable future.
“This is partly because there is not enough social care capacity to look after our frail older patients in the community, so increasingly they cannot be discharged from hospital”.
Jeremy Hunt has recently conceded that the performance of the NHS has been less than acceptable.
The comments of the Health Secretary followed close on the back of official figures indicating that Accident and Emergency is functioning in a sub-par fashion.
Indeed, the number of A&E patients seen within the target of four hours fell to a record low of 86% in December.
Meanwhile, demand for services from the healthcare system has never been higher.
This is reflected in the fact that the number of operations cancelled by NHS England reached the highest point for 15 years in the previous calendar year.
A total of 82,730 planned operations were cancelled at the last minute for non-clinical reasons; one-third higher than in 2010.
While NHS bosses have pointed out that many of these cancellations were instigated by patients for personal reasons, the fact remains that the overall picture is one of major bottlenecking.
NHS England has made it known that the level of cancellations remains at just 1%, with millions of operations being performed successfully in the NHS on an annual basis.
But after a winter period that has been seriously problematical for the healthcare system, it seems clear that major investment is required in the NHS sooner rather than later.