Head of the NHS Confederation Danny Mortimer (pictured) said that official waiting list could swell to unprecedented levels
Health bosses have warned of a ‘hidden’ waiting list of six million patients who haven’t come forward for treatment could flood NHS later this year.
Head of the NHS Confederation Danny Mortimer said that official waiting list could swell to unprecedented levels that have not been seen in more than a decade.
Mr Mortimer added that patients should expect to wait months – and in some cases up to a year – to be treated after Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget offered no new investment to meet previous guarantees on waiting times.
The NHS Confederation estimated that there was a 30 per cent drop in the number of patients being referred for treatment from 2019 to 2020.
It is thought that these 5.9 million ‘hidden’ patients still require treatment but do not appear in any NHS statistics.
But almost two thirds are expected to join waiting lists later this year – with figures expected to grow from 4.6 million in December 2020 to 8 million by October 2021.
Mr Mortimer warned that this would represent the worst levels for 10 or 15 years.
He told The Independent: ‘It’s going to take many years to recover the waiting list position to where we want it to be.
‘We have to be realistic about the time that it will take us to address these issues, and the government have to be realistic about what it will take particularly if this week’s Budget is an indication that actually there won’t be money made available to the NHS to truly address these issues.
‘The government has to take responsibility for explaining to the public what the consequences of that are.’
He added: ‘The chancellor has only done half the job. Tackling the elective waiting lists; tackling long Covid; the surge that we’re seeing in mental health cases; investing in public health and addressing the issues of social care is the other half of the job, and to date he’s avoided it completely.’
The NHS Confederation has since warned that the existing system is ‘not fit for purpose’ and has urged the government to invest more money (stock image)
The NHS Confederation has since warned that the existing system is ‘not fit for purpose’ and has urged the government to invest more money.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Care told MailOnline: ‘The NHS is open for all who need it, and dedicated staff have helped millions of non-Covid patients throughout the pandemic, with 1.2 million routine appointments and operations in December alone.
‘We have supported the NHS with £63billion over the last year, plus an extra £3 billion over winter, which will help secure additional independent sector capacity, and we are providing £1billion over the next year to help address the elective backlog.
‘Average waiting times for elective treatment have fallen by 40 per cent since July and we will continue to work with the NHS to ensure all patients receive the best quality care as quickly as possible.’
A spokesman for the NHS said: ‘While the world’s attention has rightly been on COVID, NHS staff have worked extremely hard to provide essential services for those patients who need them, including 280,000 treatments for cancer patients along with millions of routine operations.
‘The NHS remains under significant pressure so and everyone must continue to do all they can to stop the spread of the virus. But anyone who has health concerns and thinks they may need medical care should not hesitate in seeking help from the NHS.’
Earlier this week Rishi Sunak was under pressure today to explain a £30billion cut in cash for the NHS hidden in his Budget.
Earlier this week Rishi Sunak was under pressure today to explain a £30billion cut in cash for the NHS hidden in his Budget
Documents released alongside his fiscal showcase yesterday revealed there is a planned cut of £30 billion in day-to-day spending at the Department for Health and Social Care from April of this year, falling from £199.2 billion to £169.1 billion.
NHS England will see funding fall from £147.7 billion to £139.1 billion from next year, unless ministers commit to more funding for the health service.
It came as the head of the independent spending watchdog revealed that the Budget offered no cash past the end of the 2021-22 financial year to deal with the legacy of the pandemic.
Richard Hughes, chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said the Government had provided ‘no explicit additional resources’ for things like catching up on all the operations that have been delayed, as well as an ongoing vaccination programme.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer recently lashed out at the cut in funding on a visit to a hospital in the Midlands.
‘I think a lot of people will be pretty astonished to know that the day-to-day funding for the NHS is being cut in yesterday’s Budget, hidden in that Budget was that cut,’ he said while touring the Royal Derby Hospital, which he said was ‘still struggling with Covid cases’.
‘What’s coming next is the backlog of cases – 4.5 million people on waiting lists, understandably not been dealt with in the last year, so the NHS is going to have a really hard year and I think most people will be pretty astonished that the funding is being cut.
‘If you don’t fund the NHS day-to-day you are heading for trouble and if we have a health crisis we are going to have an economic crisis and so the two are linked.’
Boris Johnson said the Government has already invested ‘huge quantities’ into health and social care throughout the coronavirus pandemic when asked what the sector’s workers had to do to get a pay rise or investment.
The Prime Minister, speaking to reporters on a visit to Teesport, Middlesbrough, said: ‘We have invested already in the health and social care sector in huge quantities throughout the pandemic.
‘And I think the whole country is massively grateful to healthcare workers and social care workers for what they have done.
‘About £52 billion went into the NHS just to help cope with the pandemic, £1.5billion into social care, and £35 billion to support local councils in all sorts of ways.’