NHS Waiting Lists ‘are expected to double by 2025.’ MPs warned.

  • After the Covid pandemic, almost 6million people are still in need of NHS treatment 
  • Staff shortages in isolation rule result in staffing problems that make it difficult to get rid of backlog
  • There is no way to ensure that the waiting lists of patients are not doubled if there isn’t immediate action.
  • Nearly all medical specialties have a shortage of NHS jobs and there are currently 93,000 NHS vacancies

Efforts to clear record NHS waiting lists risk being thrown off course by a staff shortage fuelled by Covid isolation rules, MPs have warned.

The pandemic has had a ‘catastrophic impact’ on patients with almost 6million now waiting for care in England.

The Commons Health and Social Care Committee said that lists could increase by up to 80% by 2025 if there is not immediate action taken to add more nurses and doctors on the wards. 

It highlights the 93,000 vacant positions in the NHS. Rules requiring staff to isolate for at least one week for positive Covid tests add to this shortfall.

The committee said NHS staff are under pressure from multiple angles as they deal with routine care, Covid and soaring demand for ambulances and A&E.

MPs fear workers will quit unless they see ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ in the form of more recruits.

The pandemic has had a ¿catastrophic impact¿ on patients with almost 6million now waiting for care in England

The pandemic has had a ‘catastrophic impact’ on patients with almost 6million now waiting for care in England

They say tackling the wider backlog caused by the pandemic is a major and ‘unquantifiable’ challenge as it includes all those who have yet to come forward for care. 

The committee members support a comprehensive national recovery plan that includes community, emergency and social care as well mental health and GPs.

The report said: ‘Of the 5.8million patients waiting to start treatment in September 2021, 300,000 have been waiting more than a year and 12,000 more than two years.’

But it cautions: ‘With Covid-related measures such as social distancing and staff self-isolation constraining NHS capacity, we heard it is extremely difficult to accurately quantify the true scale of the backlog.’ 

While MPs welcomed Government funding to create an extra 9million checks, scans and operations, they said NHS England has yet to show ‘how it plans to meet its workforce requirements’.

They added: ‘Without better short and long-term workforce planning, we do not believe that the 9million additional checks, tests and treatments will be deliverable.

‘We note there are currently 93,000 vacancies for NHS positions and shortages in nearly every specialty. It is not clear that there are enough plans to recruit and retain staff.

‘Our concerns also extend to the social care workforce, which has at present 105,000 vacancies and a turnover rate of 28.5 per cent, rising to 38.2 per cent for nurses working in social care.’

Tory MP Jeremy Hunt, committee chairman and former health secretary, said: ‘Our report finds the Government’s recovery plans risk being thrown off course by an entirely predictable staffing crisis.

‘The NHS will be able to deliver little more than day-to-day firefighting unless the Government wakes up to the scale of the staffing crisis and urgently develops a long-term plan to fix the issue.’