Labour's £1.4billion vow to wipe NHS backlog in London in five years

NHS figures show that 970 patients in the capital have been waiting 18 months for treatment (Getty Images)
NHS figures show that 970 patients in the capital have been waiting 18 months for treatment (Getty Images)

Labour have promised to invest £1.4billion to clear the NHS backlog in London in five years, as part of the party’s plans to get the health service “back on its feet”.

Sir Keir Starmer promised to create an NHS that is “there for everyone” by ramping up elective productivity ahead of a visit to the West Midlands alongside shadow health secretary Wes Streeting.

More than 1.2 million Londoners are currently waiting for routine NHS treatment, with 502,414 waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment and 41,099 waiting more than a year.

NHS figures show that 970 patients in the capital have been waiting 18 months for treatment.

According to Labour analysis, the waiting list across England will reach 10 million if the Conservatives are given another five years in office.

To reduce the backlog, Labour have pledged to deliver 40,000 extra appointments, scans, and operations a week on evenings and weekends.

The party has also pledged to double the number of scanners to diagnose patients earlier and use spare capacity in the private sector.

Labour said the additional appointments and equipment would cost £1.4billion and be funded by clamping down on tax dodgers and tightening up rules on non-domiciled people.

Sir Keir said: “We will roll up our sleeves to work with NHS staff, not against them. We will stop the anxiety of wondering if an ambulance will come on time. We will bring back the family doctor.

“The NHS has been there for my family when we needed it. I’ll make sure it’s there for everyone.”

Health experts praised the plan but said that the party would need to make clear how it would deliver the extra staffing capacity required to deliver the pledge.

Sarah Woolnough, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, said the promise would “take real effort and focus and may mean other ambitions in health and care will be slower to realise”.

“Offering weekend and evening appointments for planned treatment and outpatient clinics is a good idea and has already been shown to bring down long waits in parts of the NHS,” she said.

“Scaling this up will rely on having enough NHS staff to take on the extra shifts; not a given when so many report high levels of stress and burn out.”

Kathryn Marszalek, Senior Analytical Manager at the Health Foundation, said the plans would need to be backed by fresh investment into staffing and infrastructure.

“It is absolutely critical that the next government provide stable, long-term investment to meet the high demand for both hospital and primary care,” she said.

“Investment will also be needed to provide capital investment to transform the NHS into a 21st century service, replacing outdated equipment and crumbling buildings with new technology and infrastructure.”

Ben Coleman, Labour’s candidate for Chelsea and Fulham, said: “The last Labour government delivered the shortest waits and highest patient satisfaction in history. We did it before and we will do it again.”

The Conservative Party has been approached for comment.