Steps to cut waiting lists welcome, but more NHS staff needed to deliver care

25 May 2023

Responding to an announcement that patients will be given more choice over where they receive their NHS care, the director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, Miriam Deakin said:

"No trust leader wants patients to wait any longer than necessary to get the care they need so any measures that help the NHS make major inroads into tackling record care backlogs should be given serious consideration.

"The NHS has a long-established history of working with a range of health care providers, including the independent sector, both nationally and locally, to tackle care backlogs and waiting lists for checks and scans. It's just one of many innovations and strategies the health service has successfully put in place to tackle the longest waits, including cutting by 90% the number of people waiting 78 weeks or more for care.

"We must remember though that improving patient choice is not a panacea for the wider challenges facing the NHS as it tackles record waiting lists.

"Some patients will welcome more choice over where they receive their care, but we know others will want to be treated at a site closer to home as quickly as possible.

"And while using technology to help patients better access the care they need is positive, steps must also be taken to guard against digital exclusion, which could worsen health inequalities that have become even more deep-rooted since the pandemic.

"And unless action is taken to address major workforce shortages, it is hard to see how we will staff the diagnostic centres, operating theatres or other healthcare settings needed to deliver this care. A long-term workforce plan for the NHS can't come soon enough."