A long-awaited plan to tackle the NHS backlog has been put on hold after the Treasury reportedly blocked a government announcement due to be made today.
The Treasury refused to sign off the plans in the last-minute intervention over the weekend, calling off Monday’s publication of the National Recovery Plan for the health service, The Daily Telegraph says.
It comes amid reports of increasing tensions between Downing Street and the Treasury.
Sky political correspondent Tamara Cohen said: “NHS figures are saying that they were expecting a fuller plan… that they say has not been published, amid reports that the Treasury have held it back because they want the NHS to meet tougher targets on tackling that backlog.”
Nearly six million people in England were waiting to start routine hospital treatment in November, with NHS figures showing that 5.7 million people were on waiting lists at the end of August – the highest figure since records began in August 2007.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Sajid Javid had been due to make an announcement today as evidence of the government’s determination to tackle hospital delays due to the COVID pandemic.
But the Treasury refused to sign off the plans, with The Telegraph reporting sources cited concerns over value for money after deadlines for hitting treatment targets slipped because of the Omicron surge.
Ministers are instead expected to announce today that patients will be able to compare hospital waiting times through the NHS app and receive information about non-urgent procedures.
The latest blow to the prime minister comes after five Number 10 aides resigned last week in the wake of the “partygate” scandal.
This brings the total number of MPs who have now publicly called for the PM to go to 14 – although not all have formally communicated this to the chairman of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady.
A confidence vote will be triggered if Sir Graham receives letters from 54 MPs – 15% of the parliamentary party.