Tim Gardner, Senior Policy Fellow at the Health Foundation, said:
‘The new Prime Minister has identified reducing NHS waiting times as one of his key priorities, but today’s statistics show there is a mountain to climb. Hospitals are struggling to cope with the demand of emergency admissions which have continued to grow year on year, while people are waiting longer for planned surgery.*
‘The NHS has routinely missed the key 62-day cancer waiting time target for over five years** with delays in diagnosis playing a key role. If not adequately addressed, these ongoing pressures will increasingly impact on patients and the level of care that the health service can deliver.
‘The investment in the NHS’s creaking infrastructure announced by the Prime Minister earlier this week is welcome, but nowhere close to the comprehensive settlement that would provide the NHS with the equipment and facilities needed to relieve the growing strain on services. The UK currently lags behind comparable countries in terms of the number of CT and MRI scanners and would need an extra £1.5bn just to bring it in line with other developed nations.***
‘But capital funding is only part of the picture. Addressing the growing staffing crisis in the NHS which currently stands at over 100,000 vacancies, swingeing public health funding cuts, and reforming social care also need to be among the top priorities for the new government.’
Notes for editors
*Number of emergency admissions July 2019 = 554,069; July 2018 = 529,932. Percentage of referrals for elective care meeting 18 week wait target: June 2019 = 86.3%; June 2018 = 87.8%
**The 62-day waiting time target from GP urgent referral to first treatment for cancer has been missed for the last 22 quarters (5 and a half years)
*** Among EU15 and G7 countries, the UK has the lowest number of both CT and MRI scanners per capita, with less than a third of that in Germany. To bring the UK up to the average number of MRI and CT scanners would require approximately £1.5bn in extra capital spending
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