The government’s multi-billion pound action plan to reduce the NHS backlog was expected to be released today. However, this morning it is announced that the release has been delayed by the government. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the plan will be released “soon” but has not given a date. He said the delay is because of the Omicron strain of Coronavirus, which meant the government had to focus more urgently on the booster programme.
There are now over 6 million people waiting for non-urgent surgery and treatment from NHS England. Figures reached this record high last November, after the pandemic forced routine surgeries to be suspended- services already under pressure before the pandemic began. The actual number of patients on hold is believed to be much higher.
In fact, the Health Secretary said the number will rise further before falls- as an estimated eight to nine million people requiring non-urgent treatment stayed away from the NHS at the start of the pandemic. More of these people are expected to be coming forward over the coming months for non-urgent surgeries.
Whilst the government claim that the delay is owing to the Omicron strain, according to the BBC it is rumoured to be because of a last-minute intervention by Whitehall. One of their political correspondents said there had seemingly been a disagreement between the Treasury and the government. These claims are backed by the Daily Telegraph, who report that the Treasury have blocked the release of the plan, which has been drafted in detail by NHS England Officials to establish a means of carrying out more operations and streamlining services.
To compensate for the delay of the NHS backlog plan, the government have announced that they’re launching a new online service for people requiring non-urgent treatments. On this platform, which will be called My Planned Care, patients waiting for non-urgent surgery will be able to access more transparent information about their local hospitals, surgeries, and treatments. This will be available via the NHS website.