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NHS Confederation - Rapid progress on addressing longest waiters welcome, but equal focus needed on service backlogs beyond electives

Matthew Taylor responds to NHSE's announcement that the number of people waiting longest for elective treatment has been slashed by over a quarter.

Responding to NHS England's announcement that the number of people waiting for more than a year and a half for elective treatment has been cut by more than a quarter in one month, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation said:

“Health leaders will appreciate the recognition that despite extreme pressures facing their teams and services, the number of people waiting more than a year and a half for treatment rapidly reduced between mid-January to mid-February. This is thanks to NHS services working innovatively to use resources as effectively and efficiently as possible.

“While this data shows encouraging progress and we are hopeful the national target to clear this list by April will be met, success will depend on how the government will seek to resolve the ongoing dispute with the trade unions on pay. Yesterday’s announcement of intensive talks on pay between government and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) are promising but these must extend to the other health unions.

“Also, the overall waiting list for elective care is growing with over 7.2 million entries and there are other waiting lists that need the same level of government attention including the fact that 1.6 million people are waiting for specialist mental health support and over 1 million people waiting for services in the community.

“These waiting lists have grown because of the pandemic but they already existed before COVID-19 took hold due to the failure of successive governments to give the NHS what it needs to build resilient services.. Hospitals and other services are still reeling from the effects of the decade of austerity with over 130,000 vacancies and crumbling estates.

“The NHS will do everything it can for its local communities, but it will take years to recover in full and it’s incumbent on the current and future governments to ensure the service has what it needs to prevent it finding itself in this situation again.”

Original article link: https://www.nhsconfed.org/news/rapid-progress-addressing-longest-waiters-welcome-equal-focus-needed-service-backlogs-beyond

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