No targets for NHS recovery: Ministers refuse to pinpoint dates when huge backlog will be cleared… despite billions of pounds of spending
Ministers have refused to set a target for when the enormous NHS backlog will be cleared despite billions of pounds of fresh spending.
Gesondheidsekretaris Sajid Javid said it was ‘impossible to know’ when patients who have had treatment disrupted by the pandemic will finally get seen.
Rishi Sunak will use his Budget to commit a further £5.9billion to help clear the record waiting list of 5.7million people.
But Mr Javid said he could not commit to solving the backlog by 2025, warning how waiting times are likely to get worse before they get better.
Critics claim any funding will be undermined by staff shortages.
Britain’s Health Secretary Sajid Javid (Op die foto) has admitted it is ‘impossible to know’ when patients who have had treatment disrupted by the pandemic will finally get seen
Mr Javid BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I’ve been very open about this, it’s going to go up before it comes down.’
Pressed on how much of the backlog will be sorted in the next three years, Mr Javid said: ‘I’m not going to put a number on it – it’s impossible to know because I don’t know how many people will eventually come back to the NHS.’
He urged people not to stay away from seeking help, sê: ‘If you stayed away from the NHS, including your doctor, at the height of the pandemic, everyone understands why you did – you were asked to – but now you please need to come forward.’
The latest funding will be spent on physical items such as beds, IT equipment and scanners, rather than the day-to-day running of the NHS. Ministers say it will increase capacity by 30 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels.
Mr Javid said this will ‘drive down that waiting list and make sure more people get seen as quickly as possible’.
Some £2.3billion of the £5.9billion total package will be used to boost diagnostic services, including building community hubs.
And £1.5billion will be spent on increasing bed capacity, equipment and surgical hubs.
But critics said the funding was ‘doomed to fail’ because there is severe shortage of specialists to carry out these tests.
Liberal Democrat Health Spokesman Daisy Cooper MP said: ‘It is all very well announcing money for new diagnostic tests and medical equipment, but there are tens of thousands of vacancies in the NHS.
‘Without the trained medical staff to use these new facilities, this plan is doomed to fail.
‘Without a serious plan to recruit the NHS staff that we desperately need, England could face an epidemic of empty wards. Shiny new scanners laid to waste because the staff who make our NHS what it is simply aren’t there anymore.’