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Waiting times for routine treatments more than double in seven years, Labour analysis finds


By Léa Legraien
Reporter
13 December 2018

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NHS waiting times for a series of routine treatments have more than doubled over the past seven years, an analysis has shown.

Research from the Labour Party published yesterday revealed that the number of people waiting for routine treatment for problems such as joint disorders and heart conditions rose by more than 100,000 between 2011 and 2018.

‘Staggering increases’

The analysis showed that, nationally, waiting lists for routine treatments have grown by 62% since 2011 –  the equivalent of more than 1.5 million people.

The number of patients waiting for six months or longer for treatment rose by nearly 70,000 in the past year.

The biggest increase was found in waiting times for lung treatment, which grew by 128%, from 41,745 patients waiting in September 2011 to 95,239 in September 2018.

Over the same period, the number of patients waiting for rheumatology treatments increased by 109%, from 43,0242 to 90,564. Similarly, the proportion of people with a stomach disorder and in need of treatment has risen by 102%, the equivalence of an extra 104,306 patients, since 2011.

Labour’s shadow health and social care secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘These are staggering increases in waiting lists. Let’s be clear, this means patients waiting longer and longer in pain, distress and anxiety.

‘In response to Labour’s pressure, the Tories have been forced to reset the funding available for the NHS – money which experts agree isn’t enough.

‘Patients will now expect, in the delayed NHS plan, this investment to be spent on improving care with a credible strategy to radically reduce these waiting lists.’

In June, the Government announced that the health service will receive a £20.5bn-a-year funding boost until 2023/24, which will be spent according to the upcoming 10-year plan for the NHS.

‘Realistic’ plan needed

NHS Providers director of policy and strategy Miriam Deakin said that the NHS long-term plan must be ‘realistic about the time and resources’ required to recover performance and reduce waiting lists’.

She added: ‘The pressure from rapidly rising demand, severe workforce challenges and the impact of the funding squeeze are being felt across the health and care system.

‘Trusts are seeing more patients than ever, but these wider pressures are having a knock-on effect on the speed at which patients are receiving the care they need.’

Last month, NHS England’s chief executive Simon Steven said he expects the long-term plan to be published by 21 December.

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