Labour blasts soaring waiting times for 'treatable' illnesses under Tories

Posted On: 
12th December 2018

The number of patients on NHS waiting lists has shot up by over a million since the Conservatives came to power, Labour has said.

Jon Ashworth, left, has said the increases are staggering
PA Images

The party found the lists for certain illnesses and injuries had more than doubled in the last seven years, with some stretching to 100,000 more than in 2011.

The analysis, which has been verified by the House of Commons Library, shows that nationally over 1.5 million more people are on NHS waiting lists since 2011 - a 62% jump.

It follows the revelation last month that nearly 70,000 patients a year in England are forced to wait six months or longer.

Figures show the health service’s target of seeing 92% of patients in less than 18 weeks for treatment has not been met since February 2016.

The biggest rise in the number waiting comes for eye-related problems, with more than 430,000 requiring treatment, compared to less than 280,000 earlier in the decade – a 56% increase.

Elsewhere those awaiting treatment for lung conditions has gone up by more than 53,000 – a 128% rise - while the figures for those with cardiovascular disease have risen by nearly 79,000 - or 68%.

Shadow Health Secretary, Jon Ashworth, said: “These are staggering increases in waiting lists. Let’s be clear, this means patients waiting longer and longer in pain, distress and anxiety.

“In response to Labour’s pressure, the Tories have been forced to reset the funding available for the NHS - money which experts agree isn’t enough.

“Patients will now expect, in the delayed NHS plan, this investment to be spent on improving care with a credible strategy to radically reduce these waiting lists.

“It’s not acceptable for ministers to allocate budgets but not put the needs of patients first.”

Theresa May announced in June that an extra £20bn would go into the NHS over the next five years, with the health service set to draw up a long-term plan on how the extra money would be spent.

Responding to the Labour figures, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "Every single month over a million patients start NHS treatment and nearly 15,000 fewer people are waiting over a year for non-urgent operations compared to eight years ago.

"We have given the NHS £2 billion this year to improve performance, redevelop A&Es and help patients get home quicker.

"We are going further, investing an extra £20.5 billion a year to safeguard our health service through the NHS Long Term Plan."