Grant Shapps just made a claim about the NHS that is demonstrably false

Grant Shapps just made a claim about the NHS that is demonstrably false

Related video: Grant Shapps condemns Priti Patel's criticism of Tory party


It was Grant Shapps’s turn to appear on the Sunday political programmes this week, and when the time came to be quizzed by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, the secretary of state for energy security and net zero decided to say something about NHS waiting times which is definitely not true.

The Beeb’s former political editor was talking about Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s five priorities for his government at the start of the year (halving inflation, growing the economy, reducing debt, cutting NHS waiting lists and stopping boats from crossing the English Channel), and how he’s been struggling to meet them.

Defending the government’s work on these five issues, Mr Shapps stressed: “[We want to] make sure we do get the NHS waiting lists down, and we’ve put huge resources into that. We’ve seen an end of 18-month waits, for example, I believe.”

If only that were true.

Back in February 2022, the NHS published its “elective recovery plan” to “address backlogs built up during the Covid pandemic and tackle long waits for care”, including a target of eliminating 18-month waits for care completely by April this year.

That didn’t happen.

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In the latest NHS data, shared on Thursday, the number of patients waiting more than a year and a half for treatment in April stood at 10,737 which, although a 90 per cent drop from 124,911 in September 2021, isn’t exactly the “end” of the waiting list altogether that Mr Shapps described on Sunday.

And if you wanted further proof that this definitely didn’t happen, his colleague Steve Barclay – the health secretary – admitted it in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

He told MPs: “We eliminated nearly all waits over two years by last July, and 18-month waits have now decreased by over 90% since their peak in September 2021.”

As Wes Streeting, the shadow health and social care secretary, pointed out in his response: “I think the secretary of state just admitted to missing his target to eliminate 18-month waits by April.”

The inaccuracy of Mr Shapps’s comments have also been pointed out by the political video Twitter account, Haggis UK:

indy100 has approached the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero for comment.

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