Health and Social Care Secretary responds to NHS waiting list figures

Following on from NHS England’s publication of performance statistics this morning, the Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins has again called for junior doctors to put an end to “damaging strikes”.
Health Secretary Victoria Atkins, MP for Louth & Horncastle.Health Secretary Victoria Atkins, MP for Louth & Horncastle.
Health Secretary Victoria Atkins, MP for Louth & Horncastle.

Figures released have shown that the total waiting list fell by approximately 96,000 patients in November 2023 – the first month without industrial action since November 2022 – the largest decrease since December 2010, aside from during the immediate pandemic response from March 2020 to May 2020.

During the wider pause in industrial action, waiting lists fell by approximately 158,000 patients, and Category 2 ambulance response times [for emergency calls, such as stroke patients which need to be responded to in an average time of 18 minutes] were over 45 minutes quicker compared to December 2022.

Ambulance handover delays have fallen by 9.9 percent compared to same week in January 2023. The hours lost to handover delays was also 21 percent lower.

The Department of Health and Social Care has stated that the country is better prepared for winter earlier than before and, backed by record funding, is making progress to get 800 new ambulances on the road and create 5,000 extra permanent hospital beds on top of 10,000 hospital at home beds already rolled out.

Louth & Horncastle MP and Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said that the reduction in waiting times in November shows “the progress our fantastic NHS staff can make towards bringing waiting lists down when they don’t have to contend with industrial action”, and renewed her call to junior doctors to end strikes:

“November was the first month without industrial action for over a year and we reduced the total waiting list by more than 95,000– the biggest decrease since December 2010, outside of the pandemic,” she said,

“We want to put an end to damaging strikes once and for all, and if the BMA Junior Doctors Committee can demonstrate they have reasonable expectations, I will still sit down with them.”