Saturday, July 13, 2024

NHS: Health Secretary Wes Streeting orders review of NHS performance

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An independent investigation of NHS performance in England has been ordered by the new health secretary.

Wes Streeting said he wants the investigation to tell the “hard truths” about what he has called a broken service.

It comes as the latest waiting time figures for the NHS show the backlog for hospital care has gone up again, hitting 7.6 million.

It is the second month in a row the waiting list has gone up, but it is still below the 7.77 million peak recorded in September.

Writing in the Sun newspaper, Mr Streeting said the investigation – led by NHS surgeon and independent peer Lord Ara Darzi – will help inform his forthcoming 10-year plan for the NHS.

Mr Streeting said the NHS could be turned around, but first it was important to diagnose the problem.

“It’s clear to anyone who works in or uses the NHS that it is broken.

“Patients are waiting more than a year for an operation. They can’t get through the front door for a GP appointment. And when they call an ambulance, they don’t know if or when one will arrive.”

He said during the election campaign he heard from people across the country who had been let down including an 88-year-old woman who fell out of bed and waited three hours for an ambulance and an RAF veteran who has been waiting 15 months for an operation.

“These aren’t exceptional cases. This is what is happening to patients up and down the country. The NHS has been wrecked,” Mr Streeting said.

“We can turn the NHS around. But before we write the prescription, we need to diagnose the problem.”

It is more than eight years since any of the key waiting time targets for A&E, hospital waiting times or cancer care have been hit in England.

Alongside the backlog, waiting times in A&E and for cancer care are a long-way short of target.

One in four patients waited longer than four hours in A&E in June, while a third of cancer patients did not start treatment within 62 days of a referral.

The publication of the figures comes as the Nuffield Trust think-tank warned progress in reducing NHS waits “stagnated” with long waits remaining “endemic” in the NHS.

The health secretary has asked Lord Darzi, who acted as an adviser and minister to the Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, to report back by September.

NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard welcome the investigation.

“Frontline NHS staff are doing an incredible job despite the huge pressures, but we know that they face huge struggles and patients are not always getting the timely, high-quality care they need.

“We will work closely with the government, independent experts and NHS staff to take a detailed look at the scale of the challenges and set out plans to address them – this comprehensive analysis will be an important step in helping us to build an NHS fit for the future.”

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