A new report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) says that the NHS waiting list in England could reach 14 million by next autumn and could then continue to increase “as the number joining the waiting list exceeds the number being treated”. And this, according to the author of the report, is just the beginning: “Much longer waiting lists [could] be with us for years to come.” Sky News has the story.
Currently, the number of people waiting to start routine hospital treatment is at a record high – 5.3 million, according to latest figures.
But the IFS has warned in its new report that there is a massive backlog of people still to come forward for treatment, largely caused by Covid [what about lockdown?].
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the number of people on waiting lists could rise to 13 million in the coming months, but the IFS projects that the total could eventually surpass the Health Secretary’s figure.
“In our first scenario, 80% of the approximately seven million ‘missing’ patients return over the next year, the NHS operates at 90% of its 2019 capacity this year and next, and then at 100% capacity from 2023 onwards,” it says.
“Under this scenario, waiting lists would soar to 14 million by the autumn of 2022 and then continue to climb, as the number joining the waiting list exceeds the number being treated.”
The IFS said while it is unlikely all patients will return due to the fact some will have died and others might have had private treatment, most will probably require treatment at some point soon, especially as virus cases decrease and “people are more willing to seek health care”.
Max Warner, the author of the analysis, said: “There is a real risk that if the NHS cannot find effective ways to boost its capacity – a challenge at the best of times, let alone after a major pandemic – then much longer waiting lists will be with us for years to come.”
Worth reading in full.