Boris Johnson’s missing NHS plan ‘shambles’ branded ‘something from The Thick of It’

The Prime Minister hurriedly announced two new targets to tackle the cancer backlog in the NHS – after a full-blown plan was delayed to later this week

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Wes Streeting likens canceled NHS announcement to ‘The Thick of It’

Boris Johnson was blasted today after rushing out a new target to clear the Covid backlog in NHS cancer treatment – but admitting it’ll take over a year.

The PM was accused of “something from The Thick of It” after he appeared at a hospital photo opportunity with his Chancellor – but delayed a full-blown backlog plan to later this week.

Instead the government unveiled a new NHS website, which patients will be able to access ahead of planned operations to see waiting times information for their trust. The My Planned Care platform is due to go live on the NHS website later in February.

Mr Johnson then hurriedly announced two new targets, saying: “We want the vast majority of people who think they may have cancer to have a diagnosis either confirming they do or they don’t have cancer within 28 days – we want 3 in 4 to have that.

“We’re also saying that by March of 2023 we want nobody to be waiting more than two months”. It’s understood he meant to treatment, not diagnosis.

But Labor said the first target was a rehashed version of one he announced last April that had never been met. Ex-health minister Steve Brine remarked it “does sound familiar”.

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And the second 62-day target for treatment is already a target for 85% of patients yet hasn’t been hit since 2015, Labor said.

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak with a staff member at the Kent Oncology Center at Maidstone Hospital today



Hauled before MPs today, health minister Edward Argar had no full plan instead saying: “We will be updating the House at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting said “this isn’t a Covid backlog, this is a Tory backlog”, with waiting lists already at a record 4.5million before the pandemic, and now 6million.

Mr Streeting told the Commons: “The NHS itself is waiting for the government’s plan to deal with the backlog. So where is it?

“It was due to be published today but was pulled last night.

“It’s like something from The Thick of It, but the reality is worse than fiction. A photo op without a plan.

“Their own NHS recovery plan just another canceled operation.

“But don’t worry because there’s a website coming that will tell people they’re waiting a long time, even if there’s no plan to make sure they don’t!”

Labour’s Wes Streeting said: “Their own NHS recovery plan just another canceled operation”

The Treasury reportedly refused to sign off on the proposals amid concerns about value for money, according to the Telegraph.

Mr Streeting told MPs: “Is this where the shambles of the Conservative party are taking us?

“Is he [the Chancellor] seriously playing political games while 6million people wait for care?

But a source told the Mirror that the department agreed with the NHS that the plan was not ready.

Mr Javid told Sky News: “We will publish the plan shortly.

“What I would say about the Treasury is that I couldn’t wish for a better partner when it comes to the challenges I have. I don’t recognize that at all.”

“Having been chancellor, having a close relationship with the Treasury, having a strong partnership for any department is crucial and right now for health and care I am just really pleased we have got that really good working relationship.”

TV drama The Thick of It satirized life inside government



Mr Argar added: “This plan is delayed. This is a plan we anticipated publishing in December. The reason we didn’t was the Omicron variant… we have made sure we get it right.”

NHS Confederation chief executive Matthew Taylor, who advised Tony Blair, claimed the Treasury was concerned about wasting cash on a “dying administration”.

He tweeted: “Increasingly getting the sense that Johnson now faces the same (but more intense and short-term) challenges Tony Blair had in his third term, namely that HMT is loath to agree to any No 10 plans involving money, as the Chancellor sees these as opportunistic and wasted on a dying administration.”

Health Committee chairman Jeremy Hunt said: “It is extremely disappointing that we’ve seen this delay to the Government’s elective recovery plan given the urgency of the situation.

“There appears to be an argument about targets which are the last thing the NHS needs: instead they should be discussing where we are going to find the 4,000 additional doctors needed to address the backlog.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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