The Patients Association, together with the NHS Partners Network, the Royal College of Surgeons and the British Orthopaedic Association, have written to the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, calling on the Government to prioritise cutting waiting times for non-urgent treatment as part of the forthcoming NHS 10-year plan.

New polling has found that the majority of the public want the promised additional funding for the NHS to be used to help cut record high waiting lists for elective treatment.

The polling, conducted by ComRes, found that seven in ten British adults believe that meeting the 18-week target for accessing elective NHS treatment, such as hip and knee operations, should be a priority if the NHS gets more money from Government, with a similar proportion saying this standard should be met even with the NHS under significant financial pressure (72% and 69% respectively).

Next year marks the 15th anniversary of the introduction of the 18-week referral to treatment target. However this standard has been missed every month for the past two and a half years with the latest NHS figures showing over 530 000 people currently waiting over 18 weeks for treatment following a GP referral.

The letter says, "While this is undoubtedly one of the most challenging periods in the NHS’ history, we believe it is vital that the Government commits to retaining patients’ rights to access timely care and ensure that the health service does not fall into a mentality that “nothing can be done” to improve waiting times."

Read the full letter here