…By Henry George for TDPel Media.
The latest data reveals that waiting lists for NHS services in England have reached a record high.
As of May, there were 7.47 million people waiting to commence routine hospital treatment, surpassing the previous figure of 7.42 million at the end of April.
This marks the highest number of patients on record since August 2007.
Persistent Delays of Over a Year Raise Concerns
Additionally, the number of individuals waiting for more than 52 weeks to begin routine hospital treatment rose to 385,022 by the end of May, up from 371,111 in April.
These figures underscore the substantial backlog in the healthcare system. The Government and NHS England have set the ambitious goal of eliminating all waits exceeding one year by March 2025.
Industrial Action Hinders Progress in Reducing Waiting Lists
Challenges in reducing waiting lists have been compounded by ongoing industrial action within the NHS, as highlighted by Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Strikes across various healthcare sectors have made it increasingly difficult to address the mounting backlog.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to reduce the waiting list figure when it stood at 7.2 million.
Impact of Strikes on NHS Appointments and Procedures
Approximately 651,000 appointments and routine procedures have been cancelled or postponed due to around eight months of strikes.
Junior doctors recently staged a five-day walkout, making it the longest period of industrial action in the history of the NHS.
After resuming work on July 18, consultants are scheduled to strike for two days, followed by a two-day walkout by radiographers across 43 NHS trusts starting on July 25.
Rising Tensions and Challenges Within the NHS
The mounting backlogs and pressure resulting from strikes have heightened tensions among NHS workers.
Leaders within the healthcare system express concerns about the potential division and strain caused by these circumstances.
The CEO of one NHS trust emphasizes the significance of these tensions and the potential risks they pose to both leaders and staff members.
Sir Julian Hartley, CEO of NHS Providers, characterizes the industrial action as a “black cloud” hanging over the NHS during its most challenging operational period.