UK’s NHS waiting list warns IFS that it could surge to 14 million next year


The UK’s NHS waiting list has grown to 14 million by next fall and could continue to grow, a new report warns.

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), if millions of untreated patients during a pandemic return to medical services for medical care, the number of people on the waiting list can exceed the number being treated. There is sex.

The research organization modeled to show the potential scale of the waiting list task.

Last month, Health Minister Sajid Javid warned that the UK’s NHS waiting list could surge to 13 million.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph a few weeks after being appointed to the post, Javid “was the most shocking to me” when he was told that “the waiting list would get worse before it got better.” Said.

“Hearing the number 13 million, it completely focused my mind, and it will be one of my top priorities to deal with as we can’t have it. “

The IFS warned that if most of the approximately 7 million so-called “missing” patients return to medical services next year, that number could exceed this number.

“In the first scenario, 80% of the approximately 7 million” missing “patients will return next year. The NHS will operate at 90% of its capacity in 2019 this year and next, and will operate at 100% of its capacity after 2023. ..

“In this scenario, the number of people joining the waiting list exceeds the number being processed, so the waiting list surges to 14 million by the fall of 2022 and then continues to rise.”

According to IFS, all patients return because some patients die, others receive private treatment, and in some cases choose to live with health problems. Although unlikely, most patients may need treatment at some point, especially for viruses. Decreased, “People seek medical care more aggressively.”

“The extent to which these” missing “patients come forward for treatment, and therefore how quickly, represent the” known unknown “that is very important to medical services,” he added.

The IFS uses various modeling of the number of patients who may return to treatment and the ability to operate medical services, and even in the most optimistic scenario, more than 9 million people will be waiting for treatment in 2022. Said. It will return to pre-pandemic levels only in 2025.

The organization said the results require the NHS to increase capacity by 5% this year and next year compared to 2019, and by 10% after 2023.

This is equivalent to treating approximately 1.6 million additional patients annually at a potential annual cost of at least £ 2 billion ($ 2.78 billion).

“Our scenario shows that in the long run, whether the waiting list remains high will ultimately be determined by the capabilities the NHS can achieve in the next few years,” the report said. I am.

Immediately after her announcement as NHS England’s new CEO, Amanda Pritchard said, “The COVID-19 pandemic’s inevitably accumulated wait times are being addressed in the pressure faced by medical services. Focusing on “.

Max Warner, research economist and analyst author at IFS, said:

“COVID-19 only made things worse, because millions of people missed treatment and millions weren’t on the waiting list in the first place.

“If the NHS can’t find an effective way to enhance its capabilities, there will be a much longer waiting list for the next few years, not to mention the best-case challenge after the pandemic. There is a real risk. “

Patricia Marquis, director of England at the Royal College of Nursing, said the numbers “identify the enormous challenges ahead of healthcare services in recovering from a pandemic.”

She states: “If the Minister of Health wants to deal with the looming waiting list crisis, he should start by investing in the workforce.

“Significant salary increases show value and help maintain experienced nursing staff that medical services cannot afford to lose in this challenge.”

Labor Party Secretary of State Jonathan Ashworth said:

“It is unacceptable for so many patients to wait long in pain and distress for important treatments, including cancer treatment. Hundreds of thousands have been waiting for surgery for over a year, some for two years. Some people are waiting for more than that.

“With years of lack of funding and reduced medical care, the NHS had already inflated its waiting list before the pandemic occurred. Given these warnings, the NHS removed the waiting list and waited for treatment. Implementing a long-term rescue plan is even more urgent to provide the resources and staff needed to save time. “

Aine Fox