Emergency action on waiting lists is needed to save the NHS from breaking, Rishi Sunak warns 

Emergency action on waiting lists is needed to save the NHS from breaking, Rishi Sunak warns  2
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Emergency action on waiting lists is needed to save the NHS from breaking, Rishi Sunak warns

  • NHS waiting list has soared to a record 6.6million in the wake of the pandemic
  • The former chancellor is set to unveil a package of measures to cut bureaucracy
  • Crisis has seen a surge in number of people self-funding their medical treatment
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The NHS will ‘break’ unless emergency action is taken to tackle waiting lists, Rishi Sunak will warn today.

The former chancellor is set to unveil a package of measures – such as turning empty high street shops into pop-up diagnostic centres and creating a new vaccine-style taskforce to cut bureaucracy.

In the wake of the pandemic, the NHS waiting list has soared to a record 6.6million with more than 330,000 people waiting over a year for treatment.

The crisis has seen a surge in the number of people self-funding their medical treatment, with 69,000 forced to pay privately in the last quarter of last year – a surge of more than a third.

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Emergency action on waiting lists is needed to save the NHS from breaking, Rishi Sunak warns  3

The former chancellor is set to unveil a package of measures – such as turning empty high street shops into pop-up diagnostic centres and creating a new vaccine-style taskforce to cut bureaucracy. Rishi Sunak is pictured above visiting a hospital in February

In a speech in Grantham, Lincolnshire, Mr Sunak will say: ‘Waiting times for everything from major surgery to a visit to the GP are at record levels. Already many people are using money they can’t really afford to go private… That is privatisation by the back door and it’s wrong.

‘People shouldn’t have to make a choice with a gun to their head. If we do not immediately set in train a radically different approach the NHS will come under unsustainable pressure and break. From day one I will make tackling the NHS backlog my number one public service priority.’

Today’s speech in Grantham is a deliberate nod to Margaret Thatcher, who was born in the town. Mr Sunak has been keen to stress his Thatcherite credentials. 

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He wrote in The Daily Telegraph this week that, as prime minister, he would ‘deliver a set of reforms as radical as the ones Margaret Thatcher drove through in the 1980s to unleash growth and prosperity’.

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