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Sunak told to 'let go of obsession with NHS privatisation and underfunding' to cut waiting lists

CAMPAIGNERS urged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak today to let go of his “obsession with NHS privatisation and underfunding” as the latest figures show that the number of patients on waiting lists remains sky high. 

The government has set an ambition of eliminating all waits of more than a year by March next year.

But new NHS England figures show that, at the end of March, 309,300 people in England had been waiting more than 52 weeks to start routine hospital treatment, up from 305,050 at the end of February.

According to the government’s original pledges, all waits of over 65 weeks were due to have been eliminated two months ago. However, the target has now been moved to September.

An estimated 7.54 million routine hospital treatments were still to be carried out by the end of March. 

Despite the government pledging to eliminate all waits of more than 18 months by April 2023, some 4,770 patients in England had been waiting more than that time to start routine treatment.

Nearly 43,000 incidences of people waiting for treatment are likely to have been excluded from the figures, as treatments by community services are no longer included in the data.

Johnbosco Nwogbo, lead campaigner at anti-privatisation group We Own It, said: “The government continues to do the same thing and expects different results every month. 

“It is high time they realised that their strategy of outsourcing operations for NHS patients to private hospitals isn’t working.

“The only solution is to pay staff what they’ve earned, invest to build up NHS capacity and cut out private profits so NHS budgets can go further.

“This government will continue to miss their targets until they let go of their obsession with NHS privatisation and underfunding.”

Keep Our NHS Public co-chairman Dr John Puntis said: “Health experts agree that the answer is not to turn to the private sector, but to invest in the NHS as a public service.

“One of Sunak’s key promises on which he invited judgement was to reduce waiting lists,” the retired consultant paediatrician pointed out. “Whatever excuses he now makes for his mismanagement of the NHS, it is crystal clear that he and his government have failed miserably.”

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