- Chris Morris
- May 7, 2017
- 862 Views
A leaked document suggests that the number of patients forced to wait in excess of 18 weeks for non-urgent operations is set to double.
This unsavoury prospect will result from the decision of the NHS to relax the obligation on hospitals to treat 90% of patients in this timeframe.
In accordance with this, it is believed that the backlog of patients requiring treatment will surge from 370,000 to 800,000 by March 2019.
This assertion is made in a presentation authored by NHS Improvement, which has been presented to a raft of hospital bosses.
The text of the document suggests that the proportion of patients being seen within 18 weeks could fall from the current 90% to around 85%.
While the number of patients requiring routine procedures will surge from 4 million to approximately 5.5 million.
Yet NHS Improvement believes that a sustainable waiting list should featured no more than 3 million people.
Commenting on the new figures, Ian Eardley, vice-president of the Royal College of Surgeons, suggested that they represent a another indication of the dismal state of the National Health Service.
“NHS Improvement’s waiting time estimates paint a devastating picture for patients and hammer home just how damaging deprioritising the 18-week target for planned surgery will potentially be. Without further help from the next government after the election, this is what the real impact will be on patients of successive underfunding of the NHS.”
The decision of Simon Stevens to reduce the 92% target had caused controversy back in March.
But the NHS England chief executive indicated that the decision had been made in order to ensure that the NHS could concentrate on serious conditions and issues such as cancer care and Accident and Emergency services.
On a related issue, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has concluded that annual increases in the NHS budget have been under one-third of those generally experienced over the past 60 years.
“Current growth is substantially below the average growth of 4.1% per year between 1955-56 and 2015-16. Spending growth under the coalition was the lowest five-year average since records began (though generous compared with the cuts to spending in other government departments over the same period),” the IFS asserted.
Responding to the figures, Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth suggested that they are indicative of the neglect of the NHS by the Conservative government.
“These IFS figures lay bare the total failure of the Tories to protect patient safety by properly investing in our health and social care services. It’s disgraceful that Theresa May has left health spending rising at its lowest rate since the mid-1950s, and her failure to implement wider social care reform demonstrates her ignorance of the serious challenges faced by carers across the country.”