Responding to today’s waiting list and A&E performance data from NHS England, Dr Latifa Patel, BMA representative body chair, said:
“Sadly, but unsurprisingly, the waiting list has once again increased to another record – hitting almost 7.8 million – demonstrating the huge challenges facing the NHS, healthcare staff and patients.
“Meanwhile, there’s been a large increase in the number of patients waiting for longer than 12 hours in emergency departments, an unacceptably long time.
“But even as the temperature drops, we mustn’t forget these figures are from September and October respectively, long before we’ll see the most intense pressures of winter start to take hold, so unless anything drastic changes, doctors, their colleagues, and patients are likely to see things get far worse.
“While the Government would like to blame these dire statistics on strikes by doctors, waiting lists were at record highs before any industrial action began, and even before the Covid-19 pandemic. This is an appalling situation many years in the making.
“Just this week the Government rejected calls from the NHS for more funding to help meet winter demands – instead telling the NHS to find savings from existing budgets, even if this meant abandoning efforts to reduce the backlog. During eight months of industrial action by doctors, and even before this, the Government had an opportunity to avert the costly impact of strikes. However, until recently a lack of engagement from ministers has left Trusts and patients paying the price. Without ending the disputes with junior doctors, consultants and SAS doctors, the Government cannot hope to achieve its priority of reducing waiting lists, and we hope that talks with all three groups can reach deals that reverse pay erosion, retain doctors, and allow them to continue working in the NHS, giving the expert care that we were trained to provide, and our patients deserve.”