NHS Waiting List Falls but Backlog of 7.7million Still Cause for Concern

Waiting lists for routine NHS ops have fallen, in a sign that hospitals are finally getting a grip on the massive backlog.

Over 7.7million procedures like hip replacements and cataracts surgery are currently booked in, including hundreds of thousands of patients who have been stuck in the system for over a year.

Professor Philip Banfield, BMA council chair, said: “With today’s figures showing the waiting list falling for the first time in months, the Government’s claim that strikes are to blame for high waiting lists is beginning to unravel, and to be exposed for what it is: a political attack on hardworking doctors exercising their legal rights to take industrial action.

“Not only were waiting lists at record high before any strikes took place, but it is thanks to the expertise of these doctors, not politicians, that we have seen this small fall in the number of patients waiting for care in October, despite unprecedented joint strikes between junior doctors and their consultant colleagues that same month.

“The numbers waiting are still too high. The failures to meet cancer and A&E standards, and unacceptable delays getting patients in ambulances through hospitals doors, are due to bed and staff shortages that we see year in year out in winter. The Government should not be let off the hook for its persistent underinvestment in the NHS and undervaluing of staff, which has led to this point. Separate figures today show that the maintenance backlog for England has risen again this year, by 13.6% to £11.6bn – this is money needed just to bring NHS buildings back to a safe standard. How are colleagues meant to make headway in improving wait times, when the buildings they’re working in are not safe, let alone efficient and up-to-date?

“We’re on the brink of an incredibly difficult winter, with junior doctors forced once again to take strike action that can still be headed off – it is for Government to resolve. While there may be some improvement in today’s figures, the Government should not be taking credit, nor should there be cause for celebration from politicians.”