Wednesday 24 April 2024
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The Prime Minister’s response to The Wire’s question on NHS waiting lists and cancer delays

We asked the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak about NHS waiting lists and cancer treatment delays when he visited West Bridgford yesterday.

The Prime Minister answered one question each from reporters who were invited to meet him on his visit to West Bridgford on Wednesday 16 August:

We asked – ‘On the NHS – there was an announcement yesterday ( 15 August ) that Nottingham University Hospitals would get £9.8 million for an extra 24 beds, they’re going to repurpose some space for it – but with waiting lists in the millions, what real difference will that make for the people waiting?

and what steps are being taken to reduce cancer waiting times, we hear that more people are waiting longer [than the target of] 62 days?

The Prime Minister said that the Government is ‘planning for winter earlier than any other government has planned for it, for the NHS, and that’s what yesterday’s announcement was about.’ 

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He added: ( audio below )

‘Expanding our urgent and emergency care capacity is how we can make sure that the NHS can get through winter ok – and that’s why we’re putting more beds, more ambulances, more doctors and nurses, faster discharge out of hospitals, all of that will help to make sure our A&E departments work really well.

‘Now, earlier in the year I announced a broader plan to do that, the Urgent and Emergency Care Plan, backed up by record funding, we’re starting to see that plan working, so if you look at ambulance response times – they’ve come down considerably since, you know, the peak over winter; if you look at A&E performance it’s improved, but we’ve still got work to do which is why yesterday’s announcement is so important and should give people confidence we’re thinking ahead, to make sure the NHS is there for them when they need [it].

‘Look, more generally on waiting lists, I’d say we’re investing record sums in the NHS, we’ve got a clear plan to bring them down, now that progress has been hampered because of the industrial action that we’re seeing.

‘I’m really pleased and grateful that a million NHS workers accepted the government’s pay offer, and that’s fantastic – I’m really grateful to them, and more generally value everyone in the NHS and the work they do, unfortunately at the moment we’ve got junior doctors who are taking industrial action – in spite of the government accepting the recommendations of an independent pay review body, not my recommendations, independent recommendations for a 9% pay rise on average for junior doctors, they’ve rejected that, they’re taking industrial action, obviously that’s hampered our ability to bring waiting lists down – I’m still committed to it – one of the examples of that is…

Patient Choice…so right now if someone here is referred for further treatment or elective surgery they can go on the app, go to the website, sit down with their GP and actually choose where they get treated, and, not only can they choose from NHS providers, they’ll be able to choose from independent sector providers as well – and that choice puts patients in control, and means that they can get treatment faster because they can say ‘hang on, if I go to that hospital they can do this faster’ or ‘I like the ratings over there, or whatever it is, that seems to me a good reform that will help bring waiting lists down for people.

‘On cancer, there’s clearly a challenge because of Covid, lots of people didn’t get their referrals then, we’re seeing that now, the NHS is treating more people for cancer today than it ever has, and considerably more than last year, so that gives confidence that we’re putting more resources in to do more, but obviously Covid’s had an impact.

‘A good example of that, which you’ll see in the East Midlands are Community Diagnostics Centres, the most important thing is to diagnose people as quickly as possible, so you need good capacity to do tests, to do scans, to do checks, so we’re rolling out almost 200 Community Diagnostics Centres across the country, you have them here in the East Midlands as well, and that is a really important part of how we’ll diagnose people faster and get them treated for cancer, it’s taking that out of the hospitals and putting them [ cd centres ] into the community – one-stop shops for MRI, CT, all those things will make a huge difference.’



•  New 24-bed specialist ward for Nottingham Hospitals

•  £9.8 million fund for 24 new hospital beds at Nottingham University Hospitals

• New £20m Nottinghamshire health diagnostics hub expected to get green light

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