NHS Backlog Plans Delayed

Nurses condemn the Tory government for its handling of the Covid pandemic

A LAST minute intervention in Whitehall delayed plans to tackle the backlog of patients on hospital waiting lists in England.

Details of the NHS England scheme were expected to be published yesterday.

The Tory Health Secretary Sajid Javed denied reports the Treasury had blocked the announcement, blaming the Omicron wave for the delay.

However, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, council chair of the doctors’ union the British Medical Association (BMA) said: ‘Six million people are waiting anxiously for care, 307,000 of whom have been waiting longer than a year.

‘Many of these will be suffering in pain and there’s a real risk that their conditions will worsen with further delays.

‘The government has a moral duty to these patients to urgently lay out exactly how it plans to address this record backlog and ensure they get the treatment they need.

‘On top of this, there is the further backlog of patients waiting for non-surgical appointments, including those with chronic conditions – with an estimated 29 million fewer outpatient attendances taking place during the pandemic than we would expect.

‘And just today we heard that the number of people facing delays for cancer referrals and treatment is at an all-time high.

‘Doctors, who are desperate to provide the best care they can for patients, will be waking up this morning incredibly concerned to hear that vital funding for the NHS is being held up once again.

‘The government has been promising this plan for months now, and while the arrival of Omicron may have delayed this, healthcare staff now urgently need to know how leaders expect them to tackle the backlog in the months and years ahead, and crucially, provide resources to help them do this.

‘The workforce is exhausted and experiencing burnout after almost two years of battling a pandemic, and staring with great trepidation at the oncoming tsunami of work ahead.

‘The government owes it to these dedicated staff – and crucially, the patients painfully waiting for treatment – to lay out this strategy now, recognising the severity of the situation our health service faces. Politics must not be put before patients.’