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THE number of people waiting longer than 18 weeks for hospital treatment in England is now almost 1.45 million – the highest figure since 2007, figures revealed today.
NHS England data shows people are facing long waits to begin cancer treatment, while hundreds of thousands are waiting for diagnostic scans.
Just 62.2 per cent of people were seen within 18 weeks, the records for May show, against a target of 95 per cent.
Unison head of health Sara Gorton warned that there is a “long road ahead” for the NHS to work through the backlog of cancelled appointments and operations.
She said: “Thousands more staff are needed if the NHS is to avoid permanent damage. An early pay rise is now a must.
“More money in the pockets of health workers would help the economy, allow the NHS to hold on to experienced staff and attract new recruits. Without it, the NHS faces an unimaginable struggle.”
The Society for Acute Medicine’s Dr Nick Scriven said: “Clearly NHS performance across the board continues to be hugely affected by Covid-19, though we must also remember performance has been poor for a lot longer than that, and questions need to be answered as to how we ensure the sustainable future of the service.”
Cancer Research UK chief executive Michelle Mitchell warned that local figures showed that urgent referrals are not yet back to normal levels, and said the backlog will take considerable effort, time and money to clear.
An NHS spokesman said local health services continue to work to expand services safely.
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