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NHS waiting lists in England unlikely to fall in 2023, research suggests

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NHS waiting lists are unlikely to fall in 2023, and the backlog is unlikely to be significantly tackled until mid-2024 despite being one of Rishi Sunak’s priorities for this year, research suggests.

The NHS has struggled to increase the number of people it is treating from its waiting lists each month due to ongoing pressures from Covid-19, although there have been signs of improvement in the past month, analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has found.

Max Warner, an IFS economist and one of the report’s authors, said that although the NHS had made “real progress” to reduce the number of patients waiting a very long time for care, efforts to increase overall treatment volumes had “so far been considerably less successful”.

The NHS Providers’ chief executive, Julian Hartley, urged the government to introduce a fully funded workforce plan and to talk to unions about pay for this financial year as strikes were causing huge disruption to services, and risked undoing hard-won progress made on care backlogs.

“Mounting pressures on acute, ambulance, mental health and community services, such as chronic workforce shortages, could hamper efforts to cut the backlog further if left unchecked,” he said.

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Source: The Guardian, 8 February 2023

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