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7 February 2022

How NHS waiting lists have reached a new record high

Almost six million people are waiting for treatment as the backlog caused by the pandemic grows.

By Michael Goodier

More people are waiting for treatment on the English NHS than at any time in the past 15 years, and the figure continues to rise.

The latest statistics from NHS England show that almost six million people are waiting for treatment, the most since comparable figures have been kept.

Waiting lists have been lengthening since the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government took power in 2010 but the suspension of routine surgery during the pandemic has caused a large backlog to grow rapidly, with the median patient now having waited about 11 and a half weeks.

The Treasury has refused to sign off on plans to lower the backlog, according to the Daily Telegraph. An announcement was due to be made today on the National Recovery Plan for the NHS, but sources told the paper the Treasury had blocked the announcement, citing value for money concerns. 

Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, has denied that the plans were blocked by the Treasury, telling the BBC that there was no issue around money and that “we do want to make sure across government everything is agreed and everyone is behind the plan”.

Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, tweeted: “Increasingly getting the sense that Johnson now faces the same (but more intense and short term) challenge Tony Blair had in his third term. Namely that HMT is loath to agree to any No 10 plans involving money as the Chancellor sees these as opportunistic and wasted on a dying administration.”

Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, tweeted: “Turns out publication of the NHS recovery plan is another cancelled operation.”

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