Prime minister Rishi Sunak has committed to cutting NHS waiting lists by giving people greater choice over their healthcare but said he would be stopping short of structural reform or privatisation of the service.
In a wide ranging speech delivered this afternoon, Sunak (pictured) made a series of commitments he said he wanted the UK public to judge his tenure on.
These included halving inflation to ease the cost of living, giving people financial security, and cutting NHS waiting lists so that people get the care they need more quickly as more than seven million people currently await hospital treatment.
This figure compares with 4.6 million people in September 2019 before the pandemic and 2.5 million in 2010 – the year the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government took office.
Sunak told the audience that at a time when government is putting record sums into the NHS and recruiting record numbers of staff, something needs to change.
He added this would not mean structural reform but would mean patients must have greater choice in their healthcare – though this would not mean privatising the NHS.
Last month, government announced plans to “turbocharge” its use of private hospitals and healthcare to cut the NHS patient backlog.
The Department of Health’s (DoH) new taskforce is being charged with recommending ways in which NHS treatment can be commissioned into the private sector.
This will use existing NHS funding, rather than being given new cash.