Responding to the National Audit Office’s (NAO) report on managing NHS backlogs and waiting times in England, Tim Gardner, Senior Policy Fellow at the Health Foundation said:
‘Given the severe pressures facing the health and care system, the NHS deserves enormous credit for the progress made towards restoring services that had to be suspended early in the pandemic.
‘But today’s NAO report paints a familiar picture of growing waiting lists as a result of workforce shortages, rising demand for care and a lack of capacity across health and social care. Inflation is also creating even greater costs pressures, which means the NHS is expected to deliver more with an ever-shrinking budget.
‘Long waits have a devastating impact for people needing treatment, who spend longer in pain and discomfort and may be unable to live a healthy and fulfilling life. The waiting list has already passed the grim milestone of seven million and, without intervention, can be anticipated to climb even higher.
‘No more money can be squeezed from the NHS without serious consequences for patients. It is absolutely critical that the government publish a fully funded, long-term workforce strategy as soon as possible setting out how many and what type of staff will be needed in future and how they will be trained, recruited, and retained. This nation’s health and care are assets worth investing in.’