NHS waiting lists will not start to fall for two years, the Health Secretary has said, with more than 300,000 people facing waits of over a year for treatment, compared with 1,600 before the pandemic – a nearly 200-fold or 17,500% rise. The Telegraph has the story.
NHS waiting lists will not start to come down until 2024, the Health Secretary warned as he outlined plans to tackle record backlogs.
Sajid Javid said the health service would “pull out all the stops” to cope with rising demand from millions who did not get the care they needed in the pandemic.
The new NHS delivery plan says that without action to increase health service activity, total numbers waiting could rise from six million to 14 million. It pledges to boost activity by 30% a year for three years in an attempt to prevent this.
Mr Javid said the latest figures suggest that around 10 million people stayed away from the NHS during the heights of the pandemic. He added that if half such numbers came forward, waiting lists could be expected to start falling by March 2024.
The plan was finally issued on Tuesday, having been held up by the Treasury amid concerns about its delivery timescales and the value secured from the £5.9 billion capital investment.
Mr Javid set out a number of targets to eliminate long waits, promising that no one should wait longer than 12 months by March 2025. The latest data show more than 300,000 people facing such waits, compared with 1,600 before the pandemic.
More than 18,000 people have waited two years for operations and appointments, the figures show – a seven-fold rise since last summer. Health officials had previously pledged to eliminate all such waits by March this year, but the new plan delays the deadline until July.