ECONOMY

Record NHS waiting lists will continue to grow, Javid warns


T

he number of people in England waiting for hospital treatment has reached a new record level and patients have been warned it will go even higher.

A total of 5.6 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of July, according to new figures from NHS England.

This is the highest number since records began in August 2007 and includes those waiting for hip and knee replacements and cataract surgery.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned the number of people on waiting lists will continue to increase before the billions of pounds being pumped into the NHS starts to address the problem.

(PA Graphics) / PA Graphics

The number having to wait more than 52 weeks to start treatment stood at 293,102 in July 2021, down from 304,803 in the previous month, but more than three times the number waiting a year earlier, in July 2020, which was 83,203.

Mr Javid told the PA news agency: “The waiting lists will go up before they go down again.”

The Health Secretary, on a visit to Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, added: “We’ve seen that around seven million people haven’t come forward in the normal way because of the pandemic.

“We want them to come forward and we want to tell them the NHS is open for them.

“But I know with this catch-up fund, and the innovation the NHS can do, we can tackle the waiting lists.”

He promised the wider use of “surgical hubs” able to treat more patients, more quickly, as Moorfields was doing for cataract procedures.

“What I’ve seen here today is a great example of how hospitals can plough through the waiting list,” he said.

Siva Anandaciva, chief analyst at The King’s Fund health think tank, said: “There are over 5.6 million people waiting for care already, often in pain and dealing with the uncertainty of when they will be treated.

(PA Graphics) / PA Graphics
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