AN MP has urged government to take steps to reduce NHS waiting times in Southampton.

Alan Whitehead, MP for Southampton Test, spoke at the Department of Health and Social Care questions in the House of Commons.

He asked Minister for Health Edward Argar what steps he is taking to reduce NHS waiting lists in Southampton.

Daily Echo: Alan WhiteheadAlan Whitehead

It comes after data revealed patients were waiting an average of 11 weeks for routine treatment at Southampton University Hospital in February.

READ MORE: Southampton MP calls for Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak to resign over Covid fines

Dr Whitehead told the Echo: "After a decade of the Conservatives’ mismanagement, the NHS went into the pandemic with record waiting lists and staff shortages of 100,000.

"It’s not just that the Conservatives didn’t fix the roof when the sun was shining, they dismantled the roof and removed the floorboards. 

"The current Conservative government is too distracted by sleaze and scandal to get a grip on the issues that matter to people."

When speaking in the Commons, Dr Whitehead said University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust is "desperate" to get back to elective surgery and non-life-threatening procedures, but find they cannot because they cannot integrate Covid treatment into general ward activity and have a high level of staff sickness.

He said: "What assistance can the minister provide for the Trust to enable them to get on the front foot as far as elective procedures and non-life-threatening treatments are concerned in the near future?"

There were 45,848 patients on the waiting list in February at the Trust – up from 44,541 in January, and 36,554 in February 2021. 

Daily Echo: University Hospital SouthamptonUniversity Hospital Southampton

Of those, 2,031 had been waiting for longer than one year.

In response to the question posed by Dr Whitehead, Edward Argar said: "Southampton like the rest of this country will benefit from detailed actions set out in the elective recovery plan.

"In addition, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust has received £12.1m to increase capacity at Southampton General Hospital.

"We’ve seen the number of those waiting in his area for an elective procedure or routine operation.

"It’s reduced slightly, but there’s more to do.

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"As set out in our elective recovery plan, some innovations such as surgical hubs, which allow a greater separation between Covid areas or areas where covid may be present, or elective activity, is a key part of that."

Nationally, 6.2 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of February.

This is the highest number since records began in August 2007.

Separate figures show 1.5 million patients in England were waiting for a key diagnostic test in February – the same as in January.

At Southampton University Hospital, 10,058 patients were waiting for one of 15 standard tests, such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy at this time.

Of them, 1,792 (18 per cent) had been waiting for at least six weeks.

Danielle Jefferies, analyst at The King’s Fund, said the latest national figures show pressures are now reaching “unacceptable levels” in all parts of the health and care system.

She said: "A&E departments remain full of patients in need of urgent care.

"In March, 22,500 people waited over 12 hours to be admitted to hospital from A&E – a more than thirty-fold increase compared to a year ago."

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