Sajid Javid says NHS waitlists are set to worsen
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The Health Secretary has confirmed that there will be additional detrimental delays in accessing essential healthcare services across the country. Mr Javid explained that, despite significant Government funding, the NHS was still struggling to address the waitlists that had been exacerbated by a pandemic which forced thousands of treatments across the UK to be blocked. He had previously outlined a plan to implement a series of “community diagnostic centres” to ease the burden of tests and treatments taking place within hospitals. However, speaking to BBC News, Mr Javid said: “The waiting lists, and I’ve been very open and frank about this, they will continue to go up before they start coming back down again.”
He continued: “The reason for that is during the pandemic, the height of the pandemic, the NHS estimates some eleven to twelve million people, they stayed away from the NHS.
“We know why they did and the NHS was rightly focused on covid patients, especially at the times when we didn’t have the vaccine.
“That has meant that those people who stayed away, many of them are rightly coming forward,”
Despite the pressure on the NHS, Mr Javid urged those who had been delayed from receiving healthcare services during the spikes of coronavirus to seek treatment as he added: “I want to encourage people who stayed away, who may not feel well, to come forward.”
The Health Secretary continued: “We don’t know how many are going to come back to the NHS, but, the NHS estimates, let’s say that it’s half, and that does mean, when you’ve got six or seven million missing patients coming back, then that is going to create a huge surge in demand – that is what we are seeing.”
Mr Javid suggested waiting periods on the NHS were set to worsen as huge scores of patients are now coming forward to access the treatment they were seeking during the pandemic.
Despite current pressure, the former chancellor forecast a long-term improvement in the waitlist times would be achieved through considerable Government funding.
“The investment that we are making, the record billions, the 33 billion in health and care for example, extra over the next three years, that is going to help raise NHS capacity to the highest level ever.”
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Mr Javid continued: “We estimate to 130 percent of pre-pandemic levels, 130 percent of normal.
“That will get those waiting lists down.
“I am pleased to say though, looking at the waiting list just over the weekend, that those people that have been waiting the longest, we’ve managed to cut that waiting list by more than half in four months.
“We’re making good progress thanks to the hard work of everyone working in the NHS and we’re going to keep doing it and try and get that waiting list down as quickly as possible.”
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The Health Secretary boasted of a future with significantly improved NHS treatment, operating at 130 percent the capability of pre-pandemic facilities.
Mr Javid outlined Government plans to construct and operate over 100 community diagnostic centres which would ease the pressure on hospitals and help to improve the triaging of patients.
The community diagnostic centres aim to make particular tests and scans, particularly those of a routine nature, more accessible, meaning hospitals can be reserved for more serious or long-term treatments.
According to data from the British Medical Association, despite Government plans to improve the NHS, a record 6.1 million patients are currently waiting for treatment, an increase of nearly two million since the pandemic began.
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