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Commenting on the Elective Recovery Taskforce report, Tim Gardner, Assistant Director of Policy at the Health Foundation, said: 

‘Patients are facing unacceptable waits – the waiting list for routine operations grew before the pandemic and is now a record high of nearly 7.5 million. Treating people quickly enough to bring down the waiting list will be hugely challenging.  

‘The independent sector already supports the NHS to address the backlog, and currently provides a substantial number of some common procedures. But government ambitions to maximise the use of the independent sector are not a panacea. With independent sector hospitals not evenly spread throughout England, and providers ultimately competing with the NHS for the same workforce, it remains to be seen how much more capacity the sector can genuinely add to efforts to reduce the backlog. 

‘While industrial action has recently hampered efforts to cut waiting lists, it is not the cause of long waits for care. Delivering the Prime Minister’s pledge was always dependent on the government acting to address the major problems facing the NHS – from significant workforce shortages to historic under-investment in equipment and buildings, as well as pressures in social care. While those issues remain unresolved, the measures announced today are likely to be little more than sticking plasters.’ 

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