There are currently over 6 million people on a waiting list for NHS services after severe delays caused by the pandemic.
In today’s discussion within the house of commons, Sajid Javid, Health Secretary announced that he expects the demand for elective NHS services to increase as some of those who need medical attention may have been deterred away from accessing healthcare during the pandemic.
“Sadly, this number will continue rising before it falls. A lot of people understandably stayed away from the NHS during the heights of the pandemic and the most up to date estimate from the NHS is that that number is around 10 million people”.
“I want these people to know that the NHS is open and as Health Secretary, I want them to come forward for the care they need. We don’t know how many will now come forward - whether 30% or 80% will return because no country, no country has faced a situation like this ever before”, added Sajid Javid.
The Health Secretary has set out a plan which will span over the next three years. The Plan will look to eliminate waits for elective care of over 18 months by April next year. This target will be improved further by eliminating waits over 65 weeks by March 2024.
As well as a plan to significantly reduce waiting lists for elective care, Sajid Javid also reiterated his plans for cancer care with a new 10 Year Cancer Plan for England.
“The NHS has done sterling work to prioritise cancer treatment throughout the pandemic and we have consistently seen record levels of referrals since March 2021.
“But waiting times have gone up and fewer people came forward with cancer symptoms during the pandemic”.
“The Plan shows how we will intensify our campaigns to encourage more people to come forward focusing on areas where referrals have been the slowest to recover like lung cancer and prostate cancer.
“It also sets out some stretching ambitions for how we will recover and improve performance for cancer care”.
The plan will hope to return figures for urgent cancer referrals to pre pandemic levels by March 2023 and ensure 75 percent of patients who have already had urgent referrals, are either diagnosed with cancer or cancer be ruled out within 28 days by the following year.
Javid added that the workforce is stronger than ever saying: “We now have more doctors and nurses working in the NHS than ever before we have a record number of students at medical school and a record number of students applying to train as nurses”.