Responding to reports that the Elective Recovery Plan for the NHS has been delayed by the Government, Dr Chaand Nagpaul BMA council chair, said:
“Six million people are waiting anxiously for care, 307,000 of whom have been waiting longer than a year. Many of these will be suffering in pain and there’s a real risk that their conditions will worsen with further delays.
“The Government has a moral duty to these patients to urgently lay out exactly how it plans to address this record backlog and ensure they get the treatment they need.
“On top of this there is the further backlog of patients waiting for non-surgical appointments, including those with chronic conditions – with an estimated 29 million fewer outpatient attendances taking place during the pandemic than we would expect.
“And just today we heard that the number of people facing delays for cancer referrals and treatment is at an all-time high.
“For doctors, who are desperate to provide the best care they can for patients, they will be waking up this morning incredibly concerned to hear that vital funding for the NHS is being held up once again.
“The Government has been promising this plan for months now, and while the arrival of Omicron may have delayed this, healthcare staff now urgently need to know how leaders expect them to tackle the backlog in the months and years ahead, and crucially, provide resources to help them do this.
“The workforce is exhausted and experiencing burnout after almost two years of battling a pandemic, and staring with great trepidation at the oncoming tsunami of work ahead. The Government owes it to these dedicated staff – and crucially, the patients painfully waiting for treatment – to lay out this strategy now, recognising the severity of the situation our health service faces. Politics must not be put before patients.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.