Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak today (7th February 2022) made a surprise visit to the Kent Oncology Centre at Maidstone Hospital.
During the visit the Prime Minister said:
“One in nine of us is currently on an NHS waiting list – six million people across the country. That’s huge numbers and they are going to keep going up.
“So we’re doing all sorts of things to clear this Covid backlog.”
The PM announced the Government would be putting in a further £8 million to finance elective surgery in the NHS and would also be recruiting “50,000 more nurses.” The Prime Minister was quick to also point out the NHS is already now employing 45,000 more people than than it did last year.
The Prime Minister praised the Kent Oncology Centre saying:
“They have been working really fast throughout the pandemic. They’ve kept the level of treatments up so that they are almost the same as before Covid.”
He said the government now wanted everywhere in the country to match Maidstone’s success.
Mr Johnson said the Government is setting “tough targets” for dealing with the NHS backlog and that the “vast majority” of patients who suspect they have cancer should get a diagnosis within 28 days.
He continued saying that from March of next year, nobody should have to wait more than two months for cancer treatment, with further announcements expected this week.
Mr Johnson said:
“We want nobody to be on a waiting list for more than two months.”
“These are very tough targets and we will make sure the NHS delivers them.”
One way to achieve that was an initiative called ‘My Planned Care,’ which would enable patients to compare waiting lists at various hospitals and choose where to have treatment.
Mr Johnson said:
“If you are due an operation, you can look round and see where you can get it done faster – at somewhere like Maidstone for instance – then you can take advantage of that.
“So we will use patient choice to drive down waiting lists as well.”
Staff at the hospital reported the Prime Minister and Rishi Sunak “appeared to be getting famously.”
One observer told the Conservative Post:
“I don’t know what all these reports are in the media saying they’re at loggerheads with each other is all about. That must be rubbish as they appeared to be getting on really well, like old friends. You could tell they were a good team and really friendly to everyone.
“It was wonderful to see them.”
Afterwards Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak also visited Chatham Town Football Club to meet apprentices.
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