Number of patients waiting a year for NHS treatment increases by 15% despite Sunak pledge

The Lib Dems said the figures revealed a ‘postcode lottery’ with delays more common in certain areas (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

The Independent
By Holly Evans

The number of patients waiting a year for NHS treatment in England has risen by 15% in the past year, new research has suggested.

This comes despite Rishi Sunak’s pledge to slash NHS waiting lists as one of his top five priorities ahead of the next general election.

However, Liberal Democrats said NHS figures show that year-long waits have risen in the 12 months to May.

NHS England data states that there were 333,119 patients waiting 52 weeks for treatment in May 222, with the figure increasing to 385.022 by May 2023.

The Lib Dems said that the figures revealed a “stark postcode lottery” with delays of a year more common in some areas than offers.

Trafford Integrated Care Board (ICB) and Manchester ICB in the North West were the worst affected areas, with close to 13% of patients on an NHS waiting list for at least 12 months.

In Brighton and Hove, as well as in Stockport, one in 10 patients had been waiting for care for at least a year in May.

Sunderland in the North East had the fewest waits out of the ICBs in England, with fewer than 1% of patients enduring a year-long delay.

Daisy Cooper, the Lib Dem health and social care spokeswoman, said:

“Rishi Sunak promised that NHS waiting lists would fall, instead they keep rising with thousands of people left waiting in pain for the treatment they need.

“These figures reveal a stark postcode lottery, with some areas seeing more than one in eight patients who have been stuck on an NHS waiting list for a year or more.

“The Government’s failure to get to grips with soaring NHS waiting times is causing untold suffering and damaging our economy by leaving people too sick to return to work.

“The NHS is on its knees after years of Conservative neglect. Ministers have to take responsibility for tackling these unacceptable waits for treatment, instead of blaming everyone but themselves.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “This Government is working to cut waiting times and the NHS is treating record numbers of patients each day.

“We have virtually eliminated 18-month waits and are taking immediate action to bring down waits of over a year, including reducing the number of patients requiring outpatient follow-up appointments.

“Our Elective Recovery Taskforce is also going further to unlock the independent sector so patients can be treated more quickly.”