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NHS waiting lists: Rishi Sunak fails on key pledge as 7.5m people languish

Rishi Sunak has failed to deliver on his key promise to cut NHS waits, the health secretary has admitted, as new figures show that the overall waiting list now stands at 7.5 million.

An extra 300,000 patients are waiting for hospital care compared with January last year, when the prime minister pledged that, under his government, “NHS waiting lists will fall and people will get the care they need more quickly” .

Victoria Atkins, the health secretary, admitted that Sunak had failed to deliver on his promise but argued: “I don’t think anyone could have thought that it was an easy promise to make and it was going to be easy to achieve.”

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Source: The Times, 11 April 2024

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A&E target missed despite tough line from NHSE

The headline A&E target was missed in March despite NHS England’s controversial last-ditch attempts to deliver it.

Four hours A&E performance was 74.2 per cent in March—1.8 percentage points lower than NHSE’s 76 per cent threshold—but up from 71.5 per cent in the same month last year.

NHSE’s attempts to improve four hours performance ahead of a year-end deadline—which included new cash incentives, asking directors to sign personal commitments, and encouraging trusts to focus on less sick patients—saw March performance 3.3 percentage points higher than 70.9 per cent in February.

Around a third of acute trusts (38 of 119) met the 76 per cent target in March–more than double the number of trusts above the threshold in February (15).

An interim ambulance response time for category 2 incidents, set at 30 minutes, was also missed in 2023-14—despite some improvement, and despite the government providing significant extra funding.

The average response time across the year was 36m 23s—better than 2022-23 when it was 50m—but much worse than the pre-covid average of 21m 47s in 2018-19 and 23m 50s in 2019-20.

Many ambulance trusts have continued to struggle with delays in handovers to A&E departments and South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust – which has seen some of the worst delays over the winter—averaged 45m 54s for category 2 incidents in March.

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Source: HSJ, 11 April 2024

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