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Pledge to reduce NHS backlog has been broken, Steve Barclay admits

A key government pledge to reduce the size of the NHS’s record-breaking care backlog has been broken, the health secretary has admitted.

Steve Barclay slipped out the news in a Commons statement on Tuesday about a totally unrelated area of NHS policy – his new plan to improve access to GP care.

He disclosed to MPs that the NHS in England had missed its target to ensure that all patients who had been waiting 18 months for an operation in hospital would be treated by April.

It is thought that about 10,000 people who had been waiting for at least 78 weeks were still languishing on the 7.2 million-strong waiting list at the end of April.

The failure to eradicate 18-month waits for care is embarrassing for Rishi Sunak, who made “cut waiting lists” one of his five key pledges and insisted as recently as January that the promise, which NHS England and the then health secretary Sajid Javid first made in the elective surgery recovery plan last year, would be honoured.

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Source: The Guardian, 9 May 2023


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