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    NHS Elective Recovery Plan: Government unveils proposal to tackle record NHS waiting lists in England

    Nearly six million people in England were waiting to start routine hospital treatment in November, with NHS figures showing that 5.7 million people were on waiting lists at the end of August - the highest figure since records began in August 2007.

    The government has unveiled its plan to tackle record NHS waiting lists in England as officials aim to get core health services back on track as the pandemic eases.

    Nearly six million people in England were waiting to start routine hospital treatment in November, with NHS figures showing that 5.7 million people were on waiting lists at the end of August - the highest figure since records began in August 2007.

    Unveiling the NHS Elective Recovery Plan in the commons on Tuesday, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he expects to see the waiting list backlog for non-emergency surgery start to reduce from March 2024 under the government's "ambitious" measures.

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    But he warned that the number of people waiting for non-emergency surgery could rise before it falls.

    The health secretary told MPs that despite the NHS's "exceptional efforts", there is "now a considerable COVID backlog of elective care".

    He said ten million people are estimated to have stayed away from the NHS during the pandemic, with 300,000 people now waiting longer than a year for care.

    "I want these people to know that the NHS is open. I want them to come forward for the care they need," Mr Javid told the commons.

    Key points:

    • Pledge to cut waiting lists to under a year by 2025

    • Aim to eliminate waits of over 18 months by April 2023 and over 65 weeks by March 2024.

    • Aim to restore diagnostics within six weeks to pre-pandemic levels by 2025

    • Creation of list of reservist health workers to 'increase capacity'

    • Plan to 'improve the information and support for patients' with new online platform called My Planned Care

    Promise to cut waiting lists to under a year by 2025

    Mr Javid said the NHS needed to "come together on a new national mission to fight what the virus has brought with it".

    Outlining his plan to cut NHS elective surgery waiting times, Mr Javid promised to cut waiting lists to under a year by 2025.

    "Assuming half of the missing demand from the pandemic returns over the next three years, the NHS expect waiting lists to be reducing by March 2024," he said.

    "The plan sets the ambition of eliminating waits of longer than a year, waits in elective care, by March 2025.

    "With this no one will wait longer than two years by July this year and the NHS aims to eliminate the waits of over 18 months by April 2023 and over 65 weeks by March 2024."

    He added that the government will expand the use of community diagnostic centres to ensure people "get a quicker diagnosis" through "one-stop shops for checks and scans and tests".

    New online platform to see length of waiting lists

    Mr Javid also confirmed that a new online platform called My Planned Care, which aims to allow those needing non-urgent surgery to see where they are on the waiting list, is "due to launch later this month".

    "Every individual on the waiting list will be able to see where they are on the list," Mr Javid said, adding that the government wants to "provide as much transparency as possible" to people in regard to the backlog.

    "I know the anxiety that patients feel when they are waiting for care, especially if they feel that they don't have the certainty about where they sit in the queue, and I am determined to make sure that as we enter this next phase, we will be open and transparent with patients," he said.

    Speaking yesterday, Boris Johnson confirmed a target that three-quarters of suspected cancer patients will be diagnosed or have the disease ruled out within 28 days.

    The original plan was for this target to be introduced in 2021, but it was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    The PM also said that by March 2023, no one would have to wait longer than two months to find out if they have cancer.

    Labour say plan 'falls seriously short'

    But responding to Mr Javid, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said the government's plan "falls seriously short of the scale of the challenge facing the NHS and the misery that is affecting millions of people stuck on record high NHS waiting lists".

    "There's no plan to tackle the workforce crisis, no plan to deal with delayed discharges and no hope of eliminating waits of more than a year before the general election in 2024," Mr Streeting said.

    "The only big new idea seems to be a website that tells people they're waiting a long time, as if they didn't already know."

    Speaking on Monday, Mr Javid denied that the Treasury had blocked the announcement of the government's new health plan - which was originally due to be published yesterday - telling Sky News the Omicron variant had caused the delay.

    His comments come after reports in The Daily Telegraph suggested the Treasury refused to sign off the NHS backlog plans in a last-minute intervention over the weekend.

    source: https://news.sky.com/story/nhs-elective-recovery-plan-government-unveils-proposal-to-tackle-record-nhs-waiting-lists-in-england-12536073