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ABOUT 121,000 people died last year while waiting for NHS treatment, according to an analysis by the Labour Party.
The grim total is the highest in the history of the health service, Labour said, and double the 60,000 who died awaiting care in 2017-18. it includes 40,000 people who had waited for more than 18 weeks.
The NHS constitution states that patients have a right to be treated for routine non-urgent conditions within 18 weeks of referral, but two in five now wait longer than that time, the party added.
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting MP said: “Record numbers of people are spending their final months in pain and agony, waiting for treatment that never arrives.
“The basic promise of the NHS —- that it will be there for us when we need it — has been broken. The longer the Conservatives are in office, the longer patients will wait.
“Only Labour can rescue the NHS from this crisis and restore it to good health. We will train the staff needed to treat patients on time again and reform the service to make it fit for the future.”
Labour said it had submitted freedom of information requests to every NHS trust in England and received responses from 35 out of 138 acute trusts. Its analysis then extrapolated the results for the whole country.
Dr Tony O’Sullivan, a retired consultant paediatrician and co-chairman of Keep Our NHS Public, told the Morning Star: “The NHS is in growing danger from deliberate underfunding, the growing tentacles of privatisation and regressive legislation.
“Keir Starmer and Labour must commit unequivocally to funding the restoration of our NHS, to ending the outsourcing of healthcare to private-sector companies and to reinstating the NHS as a wholly publicly funded, provided and managed service.
“If they do not, they will be contributing to its demise.”
NHS Providers chief executive Sir Julian Hartley said: “Trust leaders are deeply concerned that far too many patients are having to wait too long for treatment.
“Trusts’ priority is to cut backlogs and they have made real progress in reducing the longest waits.
“However, historic underfunding of the health service followed by a pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis, workforce shortages and now industrial action have piled enormous pressure on the NHS, making it harder to bear down on backlogs in the way everyone wants to see.”
Dr Emma Runswick, BMA Council deputy chair, said for people to die whilst waiting to get the care they have been waiting for “is a terrible indictment of this government’s mismanagement of our health services.
“For too long, the government has sat back and, despite promises to invest in the NHS and cut waiting lists, has done very little to make any serious improvements. In fact, waiting lists have grown year-on-year under recent successive Conservative governments.
“It's no secret the NHS is in crisis - we are thousands of doctors short and the ones we have are overstretched, working all hours under tremendous pressure, with many on the verge of burnout. This all has an impact on patient care.
"The only way to cut waiting lists and improve care is to invest in services and the workforce and come back to the table to negotiate an agreed end to the doctors’ industrial dispute. Government must wake up to this reality and start valuing doctors instead of blaming them for the government's own failures at every turn.”
The Department of Health and Social Care was contacted for comment.
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