Record 7.2m people now waiting for hospital treatment, NHS England says – UK politics live

Record 7.2m people now waiting for hospital treatment, NHS England says

The number of people in England waiting to start routine hospital treatment has risen to a new record high, PA Media reports. It says:

An estimated 7.2 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of October, NHS England said.

This is up from 7.1 million in September and is the highest number since records began in August 2007.

Key events

YouGov has released fresh polling suggesting that Labour continues to have a huge lead over the Tories.

And Keir Starmer leads Rishi Sunak on who would make the best PM, but by a much smaller margin.

410,000 people in England waiting more than a year to start hospital treatment, figures show

And here is more data from the latest NHS England performance figures.

  • At the end of October an estimated 410,983 people in England had been waiting more than 52 weeks to start hospital treatment, PA Media reports. It says:

This is up from 404,851 at the end of September, and is the equivalent of around one in 18 people on the entire waiting list.

The government and NHS England have set the ambition of eliminating all waits of more than a year by March 2025.

  • Also, at the end of October 1,907 people in England are estimated to have been waiting more than two years to start routine hospital treatment, PA Media reports. It says:

This is down slightly from 2,239 at the end of September and is well below the peak of 23,778 in January 2022.

The government and NHS England set the ambition to eliminate all waits of more than two years, except when it is the patient’s choice or for complex cases requiring specialist treatment, by July this year.

New NHS England data shows that 37,837 people waited longer than 12 hours in November, down 14% from the record 43,792 in October but still the second-highest monthly total in data going back to August 2010.

The number waiting at least four hours from the decision to admit to admission also dropped from a record 150,922 in October to 143,949 in November, again the second-highest on record.

  • A total of 68.9% of patients in England were seen within four hours in A&Es last month, down from 69.3% in October and the worst performance on record, PA Media reports. It says:

The operational standard is that at least 95% of patients attending A&E should be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours, but this has not been met nationally since 2015.

  • The average response time in November for ambulances in England outside London dealing with the most urgent incidents, defined as calls from people with life-threatening illnesses or injuries, was nine minutes and 26 seconds, PA Media reports. It says:

This is down from nine minutes and 56 seconds in October.

The target standard response time for urgent incidents is seven minutes. Data for London is not available.

  • Ambulances in England outside London took an average of 48 minutes and eight seconds in November to respond to emergency calls such as burns, epilepsy and strokes, PA Media reports. It says:

This is down from an average of one hour, one minute and 19 seconds in October, but still well above the target of 18 minutes.

Response times for urgent calls, such as late stages of labour, non-severe burns and diabetes, averaged two hours, 43 minutes and five seconds, down from three hours, 34 minutes and 34 seconds.

Data for London is not available.

Record 7.2m people now waiting for hospital treatment, NHS England says

The number of people in England waiting to start routine hospital treatment has risen to a new record high, PA Media reports. It says:

An estimated 7.2 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of October, NHS England said.

This is up from 7.1 million in September and is the highest number since records began in August 2007.

Keegan confirms military personnel have been trained to replace Border Force staff when they strike

In her interviews this morning Gillian Keegan, the education secretary, confirmed that soldiers will be used to carry out passport checks when Border Force staff go on strike over Christmas. She told Sky News:

It’s very disappointing that Border Force will be striking over Christmas.

We are doing our best to mitigate as far as possible. So in the case of Border Force, we’ve got 2,000 military personnel who are trained who are going to try and mitigate and try and help with some of those roles at the border.

But you know, we do expect there will be disruption and delays but they will do their best and they’re also helping with the health service as well.

The army could also be brought in to cover when ambulance drivers and firefighters go on strike and this morning the Daily Telegraph says senior figures in the military are unhappy about how the armed forces are being used in this way. “Soldiers should not be made to give up Christmas to cover for striking NHS workers who earn more than them, senior military figures have told ministers,” Danielle Sheridan, Daniel Martin and Camilla Turner report in their story. They say:

The Telegraph has been told that the military believes it is “not right” for soldiers, who are banned by law from striking themselves, to replace striking public sector workers over the festive season.

Senior members of the Armed Forces are understood to have also warned ministers that the plan risks weakening the “operational capability” of the military to respond to threats.

One senior defence source said: “You’ve only got to look at a private soldier on £22,000 a year and whose pay scales have not kept up with inflation for the last decade having to give up Christmas, or come straight off operations, to cover for people who want 19 per cent and are already paid in excess of what he or she would be, and it’s just not right.

“We’ve got to the stage now where the Government’s first lever it reaches for every time there is any difficulty, whether it’s floods, strikes, all the rest of it, is the Armed Forces, as opposed to it being the last resort.”

Asked about this story, Keegan said that solidiers had “a sense of duty” and “we should all be very thankful for their service”.

Education secretary Gillian Keegan confirms NHS staff could have right to strike restricted under proposed new law

Good morning. After three years of dawdling, the government is suddenly ramping up its plans to tighten the laws on strikes that affect public services, in ways that would be hugely controversial, amounting, potentially, to the biggest restriction on trade unions since the 1980s.

In their 2019 election manifesto, the Conservatives said: “We will require that a minimum service operates during transport strikes. Rail workers deserve a fair deal, but it is not fair to let the trade unions undermine the livelihoods of others.”

For almost three years nothing happened, partly because of Covid. In October the then transport secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, did get round to publishing a transport strikes (minimum service levels) bill. But this was in the dying days of the Liz Truss administration, when the crisis triggered by the mini-budget was at its height, and the first reading of the bill passed almost unnoticed.

Yesterday morning Mark Harper, the current transport secretary, told MPs that he could not say when the legislation would progress, and he implied it wasn’t a top priority for him anyway.

But a couple of hours later Rishi Sunak told PMQs he was planning “tough” legislation and No 10 gave a briefing suggestion that nurses and ambulance drivers could also be banned from going on strike by the bill, which would be a significant extension of what was originally planned.

Gillian Keegan, the education secretary, has been giving interviews this morning, and she confirmed that health staff could have their right to strike restricted under plans being considered by the government. She told Sky News:

We do have some areas where strikes are not allowed as part of the contract. So, for example, the military can’t go on strike and the police. There’s some people … as a matter of public safety, you can’t go on strike.

And what we’re looking at is, are there other areas that we should include in that? Health would be one to look at and other areas of critical infrastructure.

But when Keegan was asked if teachers should be included in a new public services anti-strike law of this kind, she said she did not know and had not looked at the issue.

I will post more from her interviews shortly.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: Oliver Dowden, the Cabinet Office minister, takes questions in the Commons.

9.30am: NHS England publishes monthly performance figures.

10.30am: Keir Starmer speaks at the opening of Labour’s business conference 2022. Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, is also speaking.

11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

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Gillian Keegan on Sky News this morning Photograph: Sky News

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