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Sajid Javid pledges 15,000 new health workers by the end of March

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T

he Health Secretary has pledged to recruit 15,000 new health workers by the end of March as the Government warned the NHS waiting list in England will not start to fall for another two years and could even double in size.

Sajid Javid writing in the Daily Telegraph, said the NHS aimed “to recruit 10,000 more nurses from overseas and 5,000 more healthcare support workers by the end of March” to increase capacity.

Mr Javid earlier set out in the Commons how the NHS would tackle the backlog built up during the Covid-19 pandemic, including new targets for reducing long waits and getting people checked for illnesses more quickly.

Among the ambitions are:

The NHS will “eliminate” waits of over 18 months by April 2023, and waits over 65 weeks by March 2024.

Waits of longer than a year will end by March 2025.

No-one will wait longer than two years for treatment by this July.

Some 95% of patients needing a diagnostic test will receive it within six weeks by March 2025. This target already exists but is not being met.

By March 2024, 75% of patients who have been urgently referred by their GP for suspected cancer will be diagnosed or have cancer ruled out within 28 days.

By March next year, people should wait no more than 62 days between an urgent referral for suspected cancer and the start of treatment. This target already exists but is not being met. The new aim is to return the number of people being seen to pre-pandemic levels.

Assuming half of the missing demand from the pandemic returns over the next three years, the NHS expects waiting lists to be reducing by March 2024

About six million people in England are on the NHS waiting list for treatment, including hip and knee replacements, cataract surgery and tests.

According to the plan, if all 10 million people estimated to have stayed away during the pandemic came forward for treatment, and activity was not increased above pre-pandemic levels, the waiting list could hit 14 million.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Javid said 1,600 people were waiting longer than a year for care before the pandemic but that figure is now over 300,000.

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