NHS waiting lists set to rise until 2024, warns Sajid Javid
HEALTH secretary Sajid Javid warned MPs that the NHS will not eliminate its year-long waiting list until 2025.
The health secretary told the Commons that the NHS' s target to eliminate its list of patients who have waited more than two years for an appointment has been pushed back from March 2022 to July this year.
He said the list of people waiting more than a year for operations would come to an end by 2025, and he confirmed an extension of the original target to reduce the backlog for the number of patients waiting more than two months for cancer treatment from March 2022 to 2023.
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Mr Javid addressed the wait for diagnostic services as he said that the NHS aims to restore the levels of those receiving diagnosis within six weeks to pre-pandemic levels by 2025.
Data currently shows that less than 75 per cent of people are receiving diagnosis within six weeks, compared to 95 per cent prior to the pandemic.
The health secretary set out key targets which will feature in the government's plan to tackle elective care, which was due to be published yesterday.
The government has faced criticism after prime minister Boris Johnson hinted that the NHS would be set 'tough' targets as part of the plan, but healthcare leaders warned that the government should not set 'unrealistic' standards.
The targets that were announced today by Sajid Javid do not appear to be tougher than the existing targets.
The key target to eliminate the patients who have waited more than two years for an appointment has been pushed from March to July as the levels reached more than 18,000 in November 2021.
The health secretary warned that the number of those who are yet to come forward for care is estimated at 10 million, but it is not yet clear how many people would come forward.
The NHS stated that if 10 million patients were to come forward, the national waiting list could reach at least 14 million.
Sajid Javid said: ‘Assuming half of the missing demand from the pandemic returns over the next three years, the NHS expect waiting lists to be reducing by March 2024.
‘Addressing long waits is critical to the recovery of elective care and we will be actively offering longer waiting patients greater choice about their care to help bring these numbers down.
‘The plan sets the ambition of eliminating waits of longer than a year, waits in elective care, by March 2025.
‘With this, no one will wait longer than two years by July this year and the NHS aims to eliminate the waits of over 18 months by April 2023 and over 65 weeks by March 2024.’
The health secretary added that the NHS needed to ‘come together on a new national mission to fight what the virus has brought with it.’
The government also promised that the NHS would deliver 30 per cent more elective activity by 2024/25 than prior to the pandemic, and the health service has been promised £8 billion to support the waiting time for recovery plans between 2022-23 to 2023-24.