NHS chief calls for £30bn to avoid waiting list crisis

  • International Medical Press
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NHS Chief Executive, Simon Stevens, has called for annual spending to be increased by £20–30 billion to prevent surgical waiting lists soaring to 5 million people.

In his announcement, Mr Stevens warned that the NHS’s ‘funding problem’ would worsen over the next 2 years if changes were not made. He underlined the extensive impact the lack of additional funding could have.

In addition to Mr Stevens’ acknowledgement of lengthening waiting lists, the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) commented on the current statistics. The RCS noted that the number of patients waiting more than 6 months for surgical procedures in England had increased by 40% over a 1-year period from September 2016–2017. The increase in waiting times follows the decision to remove the target of performing 92% of non-emergency operations within 18 weeks.

Following Mr Stevens’ announcement, the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) have expressed their agreement with proposals to increase funding. Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of RCGP, said: ‘The College wholeheartedly backs his calls for significantly more investment in the NHS. NHS England's assessment of the situation is sobering and will cause concern for patients up and down the country. Advances in medicine are remarkable, and as a result our patients are living longer, healthier lives - but patient demand is also increasing.

‘Workload in general practice has increased 16% over the last seven years, but investment in our service has declined over the last decade and our workforce has not risen at pace with demand.’

To aid the budget ‘transition’, Mr Stevens proposed the government provide the NHS with an extra £350 million per week. He said: ‘The government has rightly supported the NHS through difficult times, it protected the NHS budget immediately after the financial crash, and funded modest growth ever since. But that growth rate is set to nosedive next year and the year after.’

The government previously proposed to increase funding by £8 billion by 2022, and are due to increase the NHS’s budget by £0.7 billion in 2018.