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Labour inherits ‘frightening’ waiting lists as Streeting offers GPs billons

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Labour inherits ‘frightening’ waiting lists as Streeting offers GPs billons

The National Pharmacy Association has described as “frightening” a new report that shows Labour has inherited a waiting list for planned hospital treatment of roughly 7.5 million – 66 per cent higher than at the start of the pandemic.

The Nuffield Trust report found that average waiting times for in-patient treatment currently stand at around 142 days compared to 91 days before the pandemic.

“While recent waiting list numbers for elective care have been marginally better than at their peak in the autumn of 2023, progress has stagnated and long waits remain endemic in the NHS,” said the think tank.

NPA chief executive Paul Rees said the findings “point to the need for a fundamental rethink about how the NHS operates” and called on the government to ‘maximise’ the work of pharmacies to relieve pressure elsewhere.

“The system urgently needs funding, but it also needs radical reform to get the best outcomes for patients and cut waiting times throughout the health service,” said Mr Rees.

The Nuffield Trust findings were published shortly after health secretary Wes Streeting announced plans to divert billions of pounds from hospitals to GP surgeries to “fix the front door of the NHS”.

Mr Streeting said that while demand for primary care is higher than ever, its share of the overall NHS budget stands at less than 10 per cent and has been in decline in recent years – a trend he promised to reverse.

After visiting a London GP surgery on Monday July 8, Mr Streeting said: “My first visit as health secretary was to a GP practice because when we said we want to shift the focus of the NHS out of hospitals and into the community, we meant it.

“I’m determined to make the NHS more of a neighbourhood health service, with more care available closer to people’s homes. Because if patients can’t get a GP appointment, then they end up in A&E, which is worse for them, and more expensive for the taxpayer.”

Mr Streeting has not yet made clear whether community pharmacy will also receive a portion of diverted funding under his plans. His department has been approached for comment.

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