In June, there were 1.4m people awaiting tests such as MRIs, CT scans and cardiology investigations and that number is still increasing. Campaigners say the delays could cost lives
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Waits for routine NHS tests for deadly diseases have surged to record levels due to the Covid-19 backlog.
There were 1.4 million people awaiting checks such as MRIs, CT scans and cardiology investigations in June and this is increasing.
NHS data, collated by the Labour Party, shows for seven out of the 15 key diagnostic tests the month had the highest number of patients on record waiting to be seen.
Campaigners warn these delayed diagnosis will see patients deteriorate and cost lives.
The Mirror reveals the worrying backlog on the day campaigners will stage a protest outside Parliament about the record 5.5 million treatment waiting list.
Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said: “The numbers of patients waiting longer for tests and scans reveals the scale of the crisis the NHS is now in.
“Waiting lists for treatment and surgery are at record levels and thousands now queue for diagnosis. It means more unacceptable pain, agony and uncertainty for patients.
“Meanwhile private health care firms lick their lips and predict a boon in profits on the back of this suffering as increasing numbers who can afford it turn to the private sector to jump the queue while others fall into debt to pay for an operation because they can no longer bare the wait on the NHS.”
Office for National Statistics data shows thousands more people are currently dying from non-Covid causes compared to the average for the time of year.
Experts fear a huge hidden death toll is emerging linked to the NHS backlog.
It comes after NHS leaders said the health service needs an extra £10 billion in annual funding to ‘live with Covid’ and clear waiting lists. The Treasury is considering an increase of half that.
Campaign group We Own It will on Saturday be joined by prominent NHS supporters outside Parliament and erect a giant alarm clock to symbolise devastating NHS patient waits.
Andy Commins / Daily Mirror)
Director Cat Hobbs said: “Tackling these staggering waiting lists should be the top priority for the government but the way to deal with the backlog is not to continue piling the pressure onto our amazing NHS staff.
“The Government seems hell bent on using this issue as an excuse to bring in more privatisation.
“They’ve pledged £10 billion for private companies to ‘help’ the NHS – with £200 million already ear-marked for shareholder profits.
“If they were serious about solving the problem, this money – and much more – would be going directly to our NHS.”
Mr Ashworth added: “Thanks to years of Tory underfunding, staff shortages and cuts, a two-tier health service is opening up eroding the founding principles of the NHS as a universal service for all.
“A rescue plan for the NHS is now more urgent than ever.”