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Number of NHS patients waiting longer than a year rises 15 per cent since 2022, say Lib Dems

Overall waiting lists have hit their worst ever level, with a total 7.47 million patients waiting for treatment at the end of May in England, an increase of 50,000 since April. The figure is the highest number since records began for the NHS in England in 2007.

When broken down at a local level, the Lib Dems said the figures revealed a “stark postcode lottery”, with waits of a year far more common in some areas than others.

Trafford Integrated Care Board and Manchester ICB in the North West were the worst affected areas, with close to 13 per cent of patients on an NHS waiting list for at least 12 months.

In Brighton and Hove, as well as in Stockport, one in 10 patients had been waiting for care for at least a year in May.

Sunderland in the North East had the fewest waits out of the boards in England, with fewer than one per cent of patients enduring a year-long delay.

Daisy Cooper, the Lib Dem health and social care spokesman, said that the Government had failed to stop waiting lists growing.

Mr Sunak promised that NHS waiting lists would fall, instead they keep rising with thousands of people left waiting in pain for the treatment they need.

“These figures reveal a stark postcode lottery, with some areas seeing more than one in eight patients who have been stuck on an NHS waiting list for a year or more.”

‘More challenging’

The Prime Minister has said that industrial action within the NHS has made it “more challenging” to bring down waiting lists.

Last week, junior doctors began a walkout over pay which runs until 7am on Tuesday with waiting lists already struggling due to long-standing staff shortages and the impact of the pandemic.

Ms Cooper added that the Government must do more to reduce waiting times.

“The Government’s failure to get to grips with soaring NHS waiting times is causing untold suffering and damaging our economy by leaving people too sick to return to work.

“The NHS is on its knees after years of Conservative neglect. Ministers have to take responsibility for tackling these unacceptable waits for treatment, instead of blaming everyone but themselves.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “This Government is working to cut waiting times and the NHS is treating record numbers of patients each day.

“We have virtually eliminated 18-month waits and are taking immediate action to bring down waits of over a year, including reducing the number of patients requiring outpatient follow-up appointments.

“Our Elective Recovery Taskforce is also going further to unlock the independent sector so patients can be treated more quickly.”