Rishi Sunak was taken to task by a disgruntled voter over the state of the NHS as he made a series of visits in Hampshire.

The Prime Minister was told “you could stop it all”, as a woman confronted him on a walkabout in Winchester about lengthy wait times for treatment.

In an exchange caught on camera by Sky News, Mr Sunak appeared to laugh nervously as she said: “You could make it all go back to how it used to be … where, if you had a problem, you could go to the hospital.

“My daughter spent seven hours waiting.”

Some 6.39 million patients across England were waiting for routine hospital treatment in November, figures suggest, which is down slightly from 6.44 million in October.

But the NHS is still failing to hit most of its key performance targets despite the overall drop, the data indicates.

Daily Echo: Rishi Sunak in Winchester

Some 11,168 people in England were waiting more than 18 months to start routine hospital treatment at the end of November, up from 10,506 at the end of October.

A&E times also worsened, with 69.4 per cent of patients in England seen within four hours in December, down from 69.7 per cent in November and against a target set for March this year of 76 per cent.

Mr Sunak blamed striking doctors for the backlog, telling the woman that the recent dip in the number of people waiting “just shows that when there aren’t strikes, we really can make progress”.

The PM last year made cutting waiting lists one of the five key priorities of his leadership.

However, data analysed by the PA news agency suggests that despite recent decreases in the waiting list, it is still higher than when the pledge was made.

Daily Echo: Rishi Sunak in Winchester

The waiting list stood at 7.21 million treatments waiting to be carried out in January 2023.

As of November – a month with no industrial action – some 7.61 million treatments were waiting to be carried out.

The NHS is likely to be a key political battleground in the blue wall – traditionally Tory seats in southern England which are vulnerable to gains from either the Liberal Democrats or Labour – during an election year.