The Workers Union has hailed the reduction in NHS waiting lists from a high of 22,500 in January this year.
In a statement released today, a spokesperson for the organisation said: ‘The news that the NHS is poised to eliminate the backlog of patients waiting for treatment is testament to its brilliant, hard-working staff. COVID nearly caused the entire system to rupture, but thanks to the selfless efforts of frontline carers, our health service kept going under the severest of pressure. If ever we were in any doubt about the character of the NHS, the pandemic has shown us that its power, flexibility and ability to recover from adversity is a reflection of these brave, committed, talented people who consider healthcare a vocation, not a job.’
The Workers Union’s statement was issued after news emerged that the NHS was on course to eradicate the list of patients that have been waiting more than two years for treatment. Current figures suggest that there are now 6,700 people in that category – a drop of 15,800 since the beginning of the year.
Patients who are still on waiting lists have been given the opportunity to travel to other areas to receive treatment. At the time of writing, over 400 have agreed to do so.
The chief executive of NHS England, Amanda Pritchard, said: ‘As part of the biggest and most ambitious catch-up programme in NHS history, staff are now on track to virtually eliminate two-year waiters by the end of July.
‘But the NHS will not stop here, from delivering 1m tests and checks through our newly rolled out community diagnostic centres to new state-of-the-art same-day hip replacements, staff are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to treat patients quicker, especially those who have been waiting a long time.’
The Workers Union Says…
Make no bones about it, the work that has gone into reducing these waiting lists is nothing short of astonishing. This is not hyperbole or idle speculation – we know from our own conversations with NHS staff that their graft has made the transformation out of an acute state of crisis possible.
Of course we cannot pretend that everything is hunky dory in the NHS. But that does not mean that the doom mongers and ideologues should get the upper hand in the debate about the future of healthcare in this country.
So when we – rightly – praise the health secretary’s decision to give the ‘longest waiters’ the opportunity to attend other hospitals to receive treatment, we should also consider that this would be very difficult to achieve without a healthcare system that operates as a single entity. The fact that different places of treatment work under the same banner makes referring patients a much easier task than would be the case in a fractured network of hospitals, each one operating under its own set of policies.