Jeremy Hunt Aims To Cut Patient Backlog

Jeremy Hunt Is Aiming To Cut The Number Of People Waiting For Vital Operations

04.08.2014

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397
In a speech to staff at the Royal Surrey County Hospital, secretary of state for health Jeremy Hunt promised to focus his efforts on cutting down the NHS's patient waiting time backlog.

Although Mr Hunt claims that the number of people waiting over a year for treatment has dropped from 18,500 in 2010 to 500 now, this is still too many people.

The minister has now pledged to get this number down as close to zero as possible.

"A year is a very long time to wait if you are immobile, in discomfort or in pain," he told staff at the hospital.

"If a single one of those patients is waiting not out of choice, or for proper clinical reasons, but simply because the NHS has not been able to provide the treatment they need for a whole year - then that is unacceptable."

In order to cut this backlog down, Mr Hunt has ordered NHS England executives to look into every one of the 500 cases where patients have waited longer than a year personally and find out why there has been such a delay.

As part of his landmark speech, the minister also pledged that the NHS would commission 100,000 additional treatments over the summer period of 2014, which would involve 40,000 inpatient admissions.

Despite Mr Hunt's claims that the NHS has improved in the last four years, Labour argue that the government has caused "serious damage" to the service through its cuts.

The secretary of state for health admitted the NHS has struggled - with funding rising by 0.1 per cent annually while demand rises by 3.6 per cent in the same period.

But Mr Hunt believes the NHS has coped well. Since 2010, the service has provided an extra 850,000 operations per year for people on waiting lists.

The NHS has also been praised by third parties, with the independent Commonwealth Fund naming it as the best healthcare system.

Expert Opinion
Any measures implemented to reduce waiting times for patients is welcome. Too many people are forced to endure months of pain and suffering waiting for operations and treatment and, through our work acting for injured victims and the families of those who have died as a result of delays, we have seen the consequences such problems can have.

“It is vital any steps taken by the government and the NHS to reduce waiting times do not lead to corners being cut and patient safety being put at risk. All too often we see incidents where patients have suffered as a result of procedures not being followed correctly.”
Julie Lewis, Partner