Thank you for contacting me about NHS waiting times.
The NHS was asked to undertake a clinical review of standards relating to waiting times. This must be clinically led to enable best and safest delivery of care for patients. I understand that NHS England has now prepared proposals, covering waiting times across the service, including joint replacements, elective procedures in general, mental health, cancer, and A&E.
As I am sure you are aware, the Prime Minister recently announced the Government’s intention to provide the NHS with an additional £33.9 billion by 2023/24; this is the largest, longest funding settlement in the history of the NHS. This landmark investment to help secure the long term future of our NHS is extremely welcome.
The NHS Long Term Plan (LTP) laid out how this funding will be invested, with a focus on primary, community and mental health services, helping to deliver prevention and to manage demand. For example, all smokers who visit hospital will be offered access to an NHS smoking cessation programme and better integrated local care will help to support patients to make healthy choices which prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease. These preventative measures will help to reduce the number of people in need of secondary care services, thus enabling better access for patients in need.
While it was considered necessary to postpone some NHS activities to protect individuals and enable resources to be used as efficiently as possible during the coronavirus outbreak, my colleagues in the Department of Health and Social Care, as well as NHS staff, are determined to restart elective procedures as soon as it is safe to do so. I was delighted when the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care announced on 27th April that, from the following day, NHS services would restart. The exact pace of this restoration is determined by local circumstances, local need and demand and the number of coronavirus cases being dealt with by each hospital.
I hope that those with concerns and observations about the urgent question of waiting times will continue to let me know what they think of the progress being made, especially as the NHS returns to more or less normal working.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP