Labour Unleash Plans to Erase 7.5m NHS Waiting List

Labour has boldly pledged to address one of the most pressing issues facing the National Health Service (NHS). Here’s the full story.

Bold Pledge to the Electorate

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In their latest offering to the electorate, Labour has pledged to eliminate the NHS waiting list backlog in England within five years.

Rising Concerns and Looming Strikes

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This ambitious promise comes amid growing concerns about the state of the NHS, another looming junior doctors’ strike, and public anxiety about the service’s ability to meet the population’s healthcare needs.

7.5 Million Treatments in Queue

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The NHS waiting list in England has grown to near catastrophic levels, with 7.5 million treatments currently queued up waiting to be administered.

Post-Pandemic Backlog Surge

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The backlog, which can include various treatments from surgeries to drug therapies, has increased significantly from pre-pandemic levels, with 3 million more treatments awaiting resolution than 2020 levels.

Potential for 10 Million Cases

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Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting has warned that if the Conservatives remain in power, the waiting list could increase even further, possibly swelling to 10 million cases.

“Poor Service for Poor People”

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Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Streeting stated, “I really fear that if Rishi Sunak wins another term, what we’ve seen happen to NHS dentistry – which is a poor service for poor people and everyone else going private – that is what we will see for the whole NHS.”

Increased Operational Hours

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Labour’s strategy to clear the backlog would involve increasing NHS operational hours by offering more weekend and evening services to create 40,000 extra weekly appointments.

Utilising Private Sector Capacity

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Additionally, Labour intends to utilise the private health sector to expand the NHS’s capacity, which is strained to near breaking point.

No One Left Behind

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Streeting stated, “I’m not going to see working class people left behind while operating theatres in private hospitals are left empty.”

£1.3 Billion Funding Increase

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Labour’s plan will be supported by a £1.3 billion annual funding increase, which is expected to be financed partly by abolishing the non-dom tax status, closing tax loopholes, and cracking down on tax avoidance.

Personal Connection to the NHS

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In a separate interview with the Guardian, Streeting outlined his connection to the NHS, stating, “As someone whose life was saved by the NHS when I had kidney cancer, as someone whose family has regularly relied on the NHS in good times and bad, if there’s only one thing that I do with a life that’s been saved by the NHS, it’s making sure that I dedicate my life to saving the NHS that saved me.”

Historical Ambitious Health Targets

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Labour leader Keir Starmer highlighted that this is not the first time the party has set ambitious health targets.

Learning From Blair’s Government

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He referenced the Blair government’s efforts in 1997 to reduce long waits and establish the 18-week treatment target. This standard has not been consistently met since February 2016, less than one year after the Conservatives regained a majority in Parliament.

“Clearing the Tory Backlog”

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Starmer stated, “Putting the NHS back on its feet and making it fit for the future is personal for me. The first step of my Labour government will be to cut NHS waiting lists, clearing the Tory backlog.”

Challenges and Burnout Concerns

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Healthcare analysts have welcomed Labour’s plan but noted that simply increasing appointments would not be a panacea for the nation’s strained healthcare services or fatigued healthcare workers.

Stress Among Staff

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Sarah Woolnough, CEO of the King’s Fund, stated, “Offering evening and weekend appointments is a good idea but it’s not a given that NHS staff would be interested in doing extra shifts when so many report high levels of stress and burnout,” Woolnough said.

Limited Extra Care Funding

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Thea Stein, CEO of the Nuffield Trust, also supported the plan, stating, “We support the intention to spend more money on equipment, historically the victim of short-termism. However, the sum of money they are proposing will cover only a limited amount of extra care, not enough for a rapid or sudden improvement.”

Conservative Criticism

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The Conservatives disagreed, with Health Secretary Victoria Atkins stating, “This is more ‘copy and paste’ politics from Labour, who have no plan. The NHS has faced unprecedented challenges which it can only overcome if supported by a strong economy.”

Liberal Democrats’ Stance

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Daisy Cooper, the health spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, stated, “The Conservatives have run the NHS into the ground. The Liberal Democrats are putting the NHS and social care front and centre of our campaign by ensuring hospitals get the repairs they need, people have the legal right to see a GP within seven days, and can get a dentist appointment when they need one.”

Substantial Offering to Electorate

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While ambitious, Labour’s pledge to clear the NHS waiting list backlog is a substantial offering to an electorate that has seen waiting lists increase significantly since 2016 and NHS services stretched to breaking point.

Election Impact

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However, as the election approaches, it remains to be seen if Labour’s offering will be enough to differentiate themselves from the other parties.

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The post Labour Unleash Plans to Erase 7.5m NHS Waiting List first appeared on Edge Media.

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Grant Gallacher is a seasoned writer with expertise in politics and impactful daily news. His work, deeply rooted in addressing issues that resonate with a wide audience, showcases an unwavering commitment to bringing forth the stories that matter. He is also known for satirical writing and stand up comedy.

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