NHS waiting list analysis shows ‘decade of misery’ under Tories, says union

'The scale of the decline in the last ten years is staggering'

A&E NHS waiting times

The Tory Party has been accused of presiding over a ‘decade of misery’ by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) after analysis of NHS waiting lists in England showed just how much they have increased. 

New analysis by the nurses’ union showed that the number of patients waiting more than a year for treatment had sky-rocketed from around 700 in 2014, to over 300,000 a decade later.

In A&E, the number of people waiting more than 12 hours rose from 23 in 2014 to over 42,000 in 2024, another startling jump that the RCN said reflects the decline in quality of care for patients and Rishi Sunak’s failure to tackle the waiting list crisis. 

The Prime Minister promised to bring down NHS waiting lists, however he was forced to admit in February that he had failed on this pledge. 

The latest NHS figures released today showed that the overall number of treatments waiting to be carried out has stayed the same as last month, at just over 7.5 million. This is more than double the number in 2014 when 3 million were waiting. 

RCN leader Pat Cullen said the scale of decline over the past decade was “staggering” as she called on the government to address the “chronic” staff shortages in nursing which has contributed to delays in care. 

“Patients have endured a decade of growing misery, and they are being failed by the prime minister’s inability to grip this situation.” General Secretary Pat Cullen said.

“No matter how the government tries to cut the figures, one in nine people in England waiting for treatment is shocking.

“In ten years, the numbers on waiting lists have more than doubled while dangerous 12-hour waits in A&E have gone from impacting just a handful of people to becoming the norm for tens of thousands. Whether in emergency departments or at home, there can be little doubt that patients will have died waiting for the government to get its act together.

She added: “The scale of the decline in the last ten years is staggering and the pandemic is not the root cause. Behind these figures are people suffering in pain, many unable to get on with their lives. 

“The prime minister must face the truth head on and acknowledge that bringing and keeping waiting lists down requires investment in the nursing workforce.”

(Image credit: Flickr / Creative Commons)

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward

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