There are now 26,984 people on the waiting list at Medway NHS Foundation Trust according to the latest figures – up 28.5% in a year. Of those people, 228 people have been waiting for more than a year for an appointment.

Across the country there have never been more people on the waiting list – more than 5.8 million are currently waiting. Nationally, the standard of 92% of people seen within 18 weeks of a referral has not been met since 2016. Just over 1 in 10 people in England are on the NHS waiting list (10.3 per cent).

Nationally, the NHS is short of 100,000 staff, including 7,000 doctors and 40,000 nurses. In the Budget last month, the Chancellor did not set out a plan to recruit, train, and retain the staff needed to solve this waiting list crisis.

Cllr Teresa Murray, Medway Labour and Co-operative Group Spokesperson for Health said:

“Waiting lists in Medway are too long and getting longer. That’s not just a statistic – it’s local people living with real pain and risk longer than they should. I know our hospital is prioritising those who have been waiting the longest but while that’s happening the list is building up.

“This isn’t just about Covid – key targets haven’t been met across the country for years. From waiting lists to A&E to getting an appointment with your local GP, for local people our health service is going backwards.

“The government is hiding behind the initial successes of the vaccination programme instead of facing up to the NHS crisis. Austerity deliberately starved the NHS of resources and what’s coming through now is just sticking plaster over the funding gaps leaving staff overstretched and undervalued.

“The longer people wait for treatment the less likely it is that they will be able to remain independent which costs more in the long run than timely, effective treatment.”

Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said:

“We’ve heard serious warnings from hospital chiefs about the unsustainable pressure the NHS is under. These figures are confirmation of the dangerously lengthy waiting times patients are forced to endure and the scale of pressure on overwhelmed A&Es.

“The coming winter weeks are set to be the most challenging in history for the NHS. It’s now urgent Ministers fix the stalling vaccination programme, resolve the immediate crisis in social care and bring forward a long term plan to recruit the health care staff our NHS desperately needs, which Rishi Sunak has failed to provide despite imposing a punishing tax rise on working people.”

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