The government’s attempts to deal with a record 5.8 million patients on NHS waiting lists risk being derailed by the crisis in emergency care, a damning report by MPs has declared.
Members of the Health and Social Care Committee found staff shortages are the greatest issue faced by the NHS, and without addressing the problem, the health service will not be able to clear the backlog of patients caused by the pandemic.
The report comes as the NHS faces it’s ‘busiest week’ of the year amid a staffing crisis caused by Covid.
Health and Social Care Committee chair Jeremy Hunt said: “The NHS faces an unquantifiable challenge in tackling a backlog of cases caused by the pandemic, with 5.8 million patients waiting for planned care and estimates that the figure could double by 2025.
“However, our report finds the government’s recovery plans risk being thrown off course by an entirely predictable staffing crisis. The current wave of Omicron is exacerbating the problem, but we already had a serious staffing crisis, with a burnt-out workforce, 93,000 NHS vacancies and no sign of any plan to address this.
“Far from tackling the backlog, 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 facing the NHS, and urgently develops a long-term plan to fix the issue.”