Hospitals are under “unprecedented pressure” ahead of the traditional January winter high, the NHS provider warned.
The Health and Welfare Minister reiterated his warning that the current waiting list, which he said with 5.9 million people awaiting voting, will “increase before it goes down” as millions stayed away during the height of Covid Crisis return to seek medical care from the NHS.
The number of people waiting for non-urgent treatment from the NHS in England is likely to exceed 6 million by the New Year, Sajid Javid has suggested.
He said, “That number will go up before it goes down. Why? Because at the height of the Covid crisis, around seven to eight million people stayed away because they were asked to. They did what was asked of them.
“But I want you to get in touch, I want you to come back to the NHS, I want you to know that it is open to you, and of course when you add that to the normal demand, that’s a huge amount of pressure, of course.”
A total of 5.7 million people in England were waiting to start treatment at the end of August and 5.83 million people at the end of September, according to the latest official figures, suggesting the list is increasing by about 100,000 people a month.
Earlier this year, Mr Javid warned that the waiting list could reach up to 13 million people unless hospitals take urgent action to reduce the backlog. However, hospitals are already under “unprecedented pressure” ahead of the traditional winter high in January, the NHS provider warned.
Chris Hopson said trying to figure out how high the number could go is a “guessing game”. However, he insisted that the health workers “work absolutely flat out” to meet the requirements.
Mr Hopson said, “We just don’t know how many people who didn’t report during Covid-19, during the pandemic, will actually report, so we are in a little guessing game about how many, exactly. But I can assure you that NHS staff and NHS leaders are working incredibly hard right now to put this plan in place to make sure we can get through this backlog as soon as possible. “
It comes when the executive director of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) said that ending the “dangerous” crowd in emergency rooms should be the government’s top priority in hospitals.
Gordon Miles issued his warning after a report found thousands of deaths were caused by overcrowding in emergency rooms due to long waiting times for treatment. The RCEM said that overcrowding is linked to increased mortality and length of hospital stay, and it also affects hospital efficiency and contributes to staff burnout.
The RCEM report states that overcrowded emergency rooms “delay and dilute the quality of care,” and while it may not have an immediate impact on the patient, it argues that it increases their risk of death after leaving the emergency room.
Dr. Miles said demand and capacity in emergency care are “severely incompatible”.
In a letter to the Sunday times he wrote: “Emergency rooms now support other parts of the health system and are the first port of call for many patients, although they are not always the best place for care. There is an urgent need to plan for our future healthcare needs – and eliminating dangerous overcrowding in emergency rooms must be a top priority. “
The college’s report, published days earlier, indicated that at least 4,519 patients died from overcrowding and 12-hour stays in A&E departments in England between 2020-2021.
The report states: “If we assume that the harm suffered in patients who stay longer than 12 hours lasts between eight and twelve hours, then there have been 4519 additional deaths in England.
The discovery is said to contribute to the NHS England’s own findings that one in 67 patients who stay in the emergency room for 12 hours will be unduly harmed. Upon its release, the college asked the government to release a long-term staff plan that includes provisions to retain existing staff who burn out and attract new staff.
Meanwhile, Mr Javid has admitted that the government was not on track to recruit its target number of general practitioners by 2025, a major promise of the Conservative election platform.
He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, “We have more general practitioners. We have, I believe, nearly 2,000 more in general practice in the past two years since we made this commitment. “
Mr Javid said that since Covid-19 had become the NHS priority over the past two years, the target had not been met. But he also said, “Last year we have over 3,000 more doctors, we have 9,000 more nurses and that’s great, and the number of nurses we have in the NHS today is the highest number ever. We have more medical students than ever before in our history. “