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THE NHS needs £20 billion in the next six months to cut its record backlog of patients waiting for treatment, campaigners warned today.
The call followed the government’s allocation of £5.4bn this week and new NHS England figures revealing that the number of people in the country waiting for hospital treatment has hit a new record high.
A total of 5.6 million were waiting to start treatment at the end of July, the highest number since records began in August 2007.
But the profit-driven private sector is continuing to drain the NHS finances, with £10bn allocated to privately run hospitals to treat NHS patients — on top of the £37bn of taxpayers’ money blown on the Covid-19 Test and Trace debacle.
The NHS was estimated to be short of 50,000 nurses before the Covid pandemic began, the Nursing Times has reported, and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said that nurses are key to reducing the backlog.
RCN England director Patricia Marquis said: “If there aren’t enough nursing staff with the right skills, then the waiting lists will remain high.”
Campaign groups We Own It, Every Doctor, Keep Our NHS Public (KONP), Doctors For The NHS and the National Pensioners Convention are petitioning the government for £20bn for the health service.
We Own It director Cat Hobbs said: “We know that NHS staff are working flat out to deal with the backlog, but they are being failed by an ideology that is undermining our universal free healthcare system, pushing people to go private and dividing healthcare into those who can afford to be healthy and those who can’t — a US-style two-tier system.
“Doctors, nurses and healthcare staff are dealing with crumbling buildings and a lack of equipment.
“This government promised to build back better and give our NHS what it needs. We’re calling on them to keep their promise by committing £20bn right now.”
GMB national officer Rachel Harrison said: “A decade of Conservative cuts has all but broken our NHS.”
KONP co-chairman Dr Tony O’Sullivan said: “The NHS can and will solve the waiting-list problem if we force government to fund reopening of beds, to train and employ more hospital, GP and community staff, pay them fully and retain them so we have a strong NHS back in charge.”
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