A Little Bit Of Good News About The NHS Offers A Glimmer Of Hope About Its Future

Could the NHS turn its struggles around?
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The NHS has managed to address its huge Covid backlog in a significant moment of celebration for the struggling service.

NHS England revealed on Tuesday that it had cut the number of patients waiting more than years for a routine operation from 22,500 – the number from the start of the year – to 168.

This includes scans, checks and surgeries, and the 51,000 people who would have passed the two-year mark by the end of July.

Three NHS regions also had no patients waiting two years or longer for this routine treatment, with another three getting it down to single figures.

The stats show remarkable progress although it does exclude more complex cases and those who deferred treatment.

Still, 220,000 patients with Covid have been treated in the last six months, too.

The NHS has pointed to its elective recovery plan, which aimed to take on Covid backlogs back in February, for its success.

The service has been redirecting patients to other hospitals across the country as well, so they could be treated more quickly, while covering travel and accommodation costs “where appropriate”.

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard also claimed this achievement was only possible because the NHS continues to reform how it provides care, including using new tech like robot surgery.

It comes after the health service announced it would eliminate the two-year waiting lists by July earlier this year.

There are still worrying signs though

This statistic is only one small portion out of the whole Covid backlog. Only on Monday, there were fears over declining dentistry care across the whole country.

The BBC reported that 6.6 million people were still waiting for hospital treatment in total.

Meanwhile, ambulance response times for the most urgent incidents climbed to nine minutes and six seconds according to the NHS England in June. This is far from the target of seven minutes.

This is just one example where health care is still struggling, as it was even before the pandemic began.

On top of this, fears over its workforce shortage and long-term underfunding mean the future of the NHS still looks precarious, despite this small bit of good news about cutting waiting times.

Those at the top of the NHS still have grand plans for progress, though.

Pritchard said: “The next phase will focus on patients waiting longer than 18 months, building on the fantastic work already done, and, while it is a significant challenge, our remarkable staff have shown that, when we are given the tools and resources we need, the NHS delivers for our patients.”

Health secretary Steve Barclay said: “This is testament to NHS staff who have worked incredibly hard to get us here – despite the significant challenges.”

The government plans to remove the 18-month waiting list by April 2023.