According to the latest figures from NHS England, a staggering 5.45 million people are waiting for NHS hospital treatment in England. Whilst waiting lists have been increasing since 2013, the pandemic has certainly not helped. In July 2021, Health Secretary Sajid Javid, warned that waiting lists could rocket to 14 million by the Autumn of 2022.
Shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth has commented that waiting lists for seven out of 15 diagnostic tests, are at all time highs. 275,436 patients are waiting for MRI scans and 447,993 for non-obstetric ultrasounds. 163,265 patients are waiting for CT scans.
A government spokesperson has said that this year alone they have provided a further £29 billion to support health and care services, including an extra £1 billion to tackle the backlog, but will this still fall short?
Whilst wealthy patients may be able to fund surgery to get ahead of the waiting lists, there is a real concern that patients who cannot afford to do so, are incurring significant debt in resorting to private healthcare. Patients suffering from persistent, crippling pain whilst they await a date for surgery can be left with a very poor quality of life. The attraction of private healthcare for them must be very high.
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