The most recent performance data published by NHS England for April 2020 shows an 8% reduction in the size of the waiting lists compared with April 2019, from 4,297,571 to 3,942,748. However, it is important to note that reduced referrals due to covid-19 are likely to be the cause of that, and there are a number of people waiting longer.
To address the inevitable increase in waiting times for non-covid treatments, back in March the Government contracted private health providers to supply some 8,000 bed spaces at a cost of millions of pounds to the NHS and taxpayers. It was reported that a significant proportion of that capacity has been paid for but underused. The Government are now considering further contracts with private sector hospitals. How can we be confident that money will not be wasted again and that those waiting will get the treatment they so badly need?
I gently say to the hon. Lady that I do not think that contracting to ensure sufficient capacity in our NHS at all times, so that it was never overwhelmed, which it has not been, was a waste of money. In response to her substantive point, we continue to work with the independent sector and the broader NHS to get elective surgery and other non-emergency procedures restarted at pace.