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NHS Trusts Brace for Tough Winter Amid Concerns Over Waiting Lists, Cancer Targets – Poll

© AFP 2023 / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVASA veteran wearing a Royal Hospital Chelsea hat, and in PPE (personal protective equipment) of a face mask, as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, stands outside the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London
A veteran wearing a Royal Hospital Chelsea hat, and in PPE (personal protective equipment) of a face mask, as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, stands outside the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London  - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.11.2022
Last week, NHS England said that a whopping total of 7.1 million people in the UK were waiting for treatment as of the end of September, the highest number since records began in August 2007.
An array of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) trust leaders are not sure whether they will meet key targets on waiting lists and fighting cancer, amid their concern over winter challenges, a new poll has revealed.
The survey of health trust leaders was conducted for NHS Providers, who describe themselves as the “membership organization for the NHS hospital, mental health, community and ambulance services that treat patients and service users.”
According to the poll, about 85% of NHS trust leaders admitted that they are more concerned about this winter than any previous one during their career.
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The research also found that 48% felt their trust was on track to meet elective recovery and cancer targets by the end of the financial year.
Almost a quarter (24%), however, disagreed or strongly disagreed that they could hit those targets that were put in place after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commenting on the poll’s results, Saffron Cordery, NHS Providers' interim chief executive, told a UK media outlet that “alarm bells should be ringing across Whitehall with warnings from our trust leaders that less than half now expect to meet key end of year elective recovery and cancer targets.”

He urged the importance of “addressing the long-standing challenges facing the social care sector”, which Cordery claimed might help “fix the serious knock-on effects caused by hospitals being unable to discharge thousands of patients who are well enough to recover at or closer to home.
According to Cordery, those knock-on effects in turn badly affect timely hospital admissions, including from A&E (accident and emergency departments) and the handover of patients from waiting ambulances.
The remarks came as a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, a London-based independent think tank, found that even though NHS spending is, in real terms, 12% above its 2019 level, the UK health service is getting fewer people off waiting lists.
The report’s author Max Warner warned that “if either the NHS continues to fail to translate additional resources into additional activity, or numbers joining waiting lists return in anything like anticipated numbers, then waiting lists, and associated costs in terms of poor health and delayed treatment, will continue to grow for some time to come.”
An NHS spokeswoman responded by arguing that “despite concerns about what is likely to be a very challenging winter, the NHS is currently on track to deliver on its next recovery milestones.”
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According to her, the NHS has already “virtually eliminated two year waits for care and waits of more than 18 months are already down by 60% on last September.”

She admitted that there was "no doubt the NHS is under considerable pressure" but added that it is "preparing extensively and has already set out plans to manage additional demand, including through 24/7 control rooms, falls services and recruiting more call handlers."

This was preceded by NHS England saying last week that a total of 401,537 people in England had been waiting more than 52 weeks to start hospital treatment in late September. The government previously set the goal of scrapping all waits of more than a year by March 2025.
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