Progress on waiting list stagnates as election looms

Sarah Scobie responds to the latest NHS performance statistics.

Press release

Published: 13/06/2024

Responding to the latest NHS performance statistics, Nuffield Trust acting director of research Dr Sarah Scobie said:

“The final NHS performance stats before the election confirm that progress to bring down the waiting list has stalled, with the waiting list stagnant at 7.57 million. In April, an additional 34,000 cases were added to the waiting list as more people were referred for care than the NHS was able to treat. This is a familiar picture over more than a decade whereby NHS staff are working incredibly hard, but the system can’t keep up with growing demand.

“Performance against key cancer targets has also worsened with the 62-day target to start cancer treatment having only been met once in 10 years, and once again the NHS is missing its target to have 75% patients having their cancer diagnosed or ruled out within 28 days.

“It is hard to overstate what a profound political challenge the huge waiting list has become now. All the political parties recognise the importance of bringing down waiting times but this huge backlog is going to be a constant spectre for the next government, whoever gets the keys to No 10 in July. Truly tackling it effectively will be something that takes time, investment, patience, and hard work – and it’s likely that on current plans it will be extremely stretching to eliminate it before the end of this decade."

Notes to editors