RCN warns ‘Patients are suffering!

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Nurses out on strike demanding decent pay and the defence of the NHS

PATIENTS are suffering as the prime minister fails to tackle the waiting list crisis, RCN warns, as new analysis reveals decade of misery.

The prime minister has been warned that patients are being failed by his inability to tackle the waiting list crisis, as new RCN analysis of NHS England data reveals a decade of growing misery and decline for patients.

The new analysis from the nursing union, which includes NHS England’s latest tranche of waiting list data released yesterday, shows the number of patients waiting more than a year for treatment has sky-rocketed from around 700 in 2014, to over 300,000 in 2024.

Meanwhile, in accident and emergency departments, the situation has become even more desperate, with the numbers of people waiting more than 12 hours exploding from just 23 in 2014 to over 42,000 a decade later.

The overall number of treatments waiting to be carried out was 3 million in 2014, whilst today it has more than doubled to over 7.5 million. The latest NHS England figures show the figure has stayed the same compared to last month, despite the prime minister promising to bring waiting lists down in January last year.

Responding to the figures, Professor Pat Cullen, RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive, said: ‘Patients have endured a decade of growing misery, and they are being failed by the prime minister’s inability to grip this situation. No matter how the government tries to cut the figures, one in nine people in England waiting for treatment is shocking.

‘In ten years, the numbers on waiting lists have more than doubled while dangerous 12-hour waits in A&E have gone from impacting just a handful of people to becoming the norm for tens of thousands.

‘Whether in emergency departments or at home, there can be little doubt that patients will have died waiting for the government to get its act together.

‘Nursing staff provide the vast majority of care but there are over 34,000 nurse vacancies in the NHS alone – with chronic shortages across every setting. Too few staff mean delays to care, which at their most serious lead to emergency admissions and stays in hospital. The result is a jam-packed NHS treating patients in corridors, doorways and even store cupboards.

‘The scale of the decline in the last ten years is staggering and the pandemic is not the root cause. Behind these figures are people suffering in pain, many unable to get on with their lives.

‘The prime minister must face the truth head on and acknowledge that bringing and keeping waiting lists down requires investment in the nursing workforce.’