A new report by the National Audit Office has warned that there is a significant risk that NHS waiting times could lengthen even further and provides a detailed analysis of the challenges ahead.
Recovering elective and cancer care performance to the standards required will be a huge and lengthy challenge for the NHS, and there is a real risk that the waiting list for patients seeking elective care will be longer in 2025 than it is today, according to analysis from the National Audit Office (NAO).1
The Government is providing the NHS in England with an additional £8 billion between 2022-23 and 2024-25 to support the recovery of elective care. With the extra funding, it expects the NHS to increase elective care activity by 2024-25 by 10% more than its pre-pandemic plans
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHS was doing more work year-on-year, but demand for its services was increasing even faster. Between 2010 and 2019, NHS resources changed unevenly: the number of consultants grew at over 3% a year, but there was almost no change in nurse numbers, and there was an annual 1.1% reduction in the number of general and acute care (non-critical care) beds available for overnight use. To keep pace with the demand for its services, the NHS would have needed either more beds and more staff or a different way of working, or a combination of the two.
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