The Labour Party has accused the Government of failing patients after the Chancellor buried a £30 billion cut to day-to-day spending in the Department of Health and Social Care, as waiting lists hit a record high.
Buried in the small print of Rishi Sunak’s budget statement on Wednesday 3 March is more cuts to frontline NHS services of £30.1 billion that will increase pressure on staff and do nothing for patients stuck on growing waiting lists.
The budget also contained no additional funding for social care or public health. In fact, NHS England spending will fall from £147.7 billion this year to £139.1 billion from next despite the ongoing costs to the NHS from Covid and the huge backlog of cases and waiting lists that have built up during the crisis.
Commenting on the findings, Jonathan Ashworth MP, Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, said:
“The Chancellor is failing patients, our NHS and its staff by cutting frontline services during a pandemic.
“With lists already at a record high, this will mean patients waiting even longer in pain for vital treatment.
“Yesterday’s Budget papered over the cracks rather than rebuilding the foundations of our country.”
A new analysis published by the Labour Party reveals that:
- The number of patients waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment has increased by over 500% over the last decade.
- Almost a quarter of a million people are waiting more than a year for treatment.
- An estimated 4.59 million people are currently on the waiting list for treatment – the highest ever number on record.
- Even before the pandemic hit, the number of people waiting more than 18 weeks had spiralled over the previous nine years, to over 720,000 in December 2019.
- Only 68% of patients on the waiting list have been waiting 18 weeks or less – the statutory target for 92% of patients to receive treatment within 18 weeks of referral has not been met since 2016.
The figures include patients waiting for hip and knee replacements and cataract removals, among many other procedures and treatments vital to people’s quality of life.