The Conservative government is set to scrap NHS targets in England to focus instead on running the health service like schools.
A major review into how the NHS operates – led by former Labour health secretary Patricia Hewitt – will be published this spring. It is expected to call for a wide ranging cull of NHS targets for trusts and GPs, giving local managers more autonomy in an attempt to “boost efficiency”.
The Royal College of GPs has welcomed reports that NHS targets could be scrapped and said care workers are taken away from delivering front line care by “tick box exercises”.
Cut waiting times not NHS targets, say Labour
However, the Labour party said the government should focus on cutting waiting lists not standards to improve patient care.
“After years of failing to meet basic standards for patients, the government is now looking to water down or scrap standards altogether,” said Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary.
“The answer is cutting waiting times, not cutting standards for patients.
“It is a disgrace that patients are spending 24 hours in A&E, suspected heart attack and stroke victims are waiting around an hour for an ambulance, and that patients have waited longer for cancer care every year since 2010.”
NHS staff shortages caused the cancellation of 30,000 operations last year, recent figures show, out of a total 158,000 procedures that were cancelled for non-surgical reasons.
Labour, which obtained the figures under freedom of information laws, said the number of cancelled operations has doubled since 2018/19 when 79,000 were cancelled.
As well as cancelled operations and record waiting lists, the NHS is under increasing strain from multiple fronts.
Patients are waiting for ambulances and then waiting at hospitals to be admitted and being tended to on trolleys in corridors. Nurses and ambulance workers are striking, not just over pay but also staffing levels and working conditions impacting on patient safety and care.
Dorries predicts Johnson’s return by Christmas
Meanwhile, former secretary of state of culture Nadine Dorries is predicting the disgraced former prime minister Boris Johnson will be back in Number 10 by Christmas 2023.
“I think there is a chance, if the polls keep sliding, by this time next year we will see Boris Johnson back in Downing Street,” said Dorries.
Dorries, a famously staunch Johnson-ally, suggested May’s local elections could become a turning point for Rishi Sunak’s premiership. In an interview with the Express newspaper, Dorries said those elections are going to “be absolutely difficult for us [Conservatives] but Rishi won’t walk.”
Dozens of Conservative MPs face losing their seats according to recent polls.
“Many of the people who were anti-Boris [will] realise they are nothing without their seat [in the House of Commons],” said Dorries, speaking about her colleagues’ post-politics prospects. She continued: “They have no voice, no one is interested in what they will have to say, not even down at the job centre.”
That realisation, Dorries is suggesting, will see Tory MPs clamouring to reappoint Johnson in time for the next general election.
Dorries is expected to be part of Johnson’s resignation honours list and to take a seat in the House of Lords.
Johnson is still under investigation over claims he misled MPs over Partygate. He will be before a Commons privileges committee inquiry into the claims this year.