NHS England has drawn on the work of Versus Arthritis, including its joint replacement support package, in the resources it provides to support people waiting for hip and knee replacements. Alongside that, we know that what people really want is faster treatment. That is why we are working so hard to cut waiting lists, which is one of the Prime Minister’s five key priorities.
I am glad that the Minister referenced Versus Arthritis, because it does great work, but it has significant concerns about the waits for treatment for people living with arthritis. While recognising the efforts of hard-working NHS staff, there are more than 800,000 people in England waiting for trauma and orthopaedic treatment, including more than 5,500 Southwark constituents waiting for treatment at Guy’s and St Tommy’s hospitals. Will the Minister meet staff from Versus Arthritis specifically to discuss how to better support people waiting for those treatments?
As the hon. Member said, Versus Arthritis is doing really important work not only supporting people with arthritis while they wait for treatment, but better preparing them for surgery. What is really important, as I said a moment ago, is reducing those waits and the work that we are doing on that. We have already virtually eliminated two-year waits, and 18-month waits have been reduced by more than 90%, which is quite a contrast, we know, to the performance of the Labour-run NHS in Wales. I encourage Versus Arthritis to contribute to our call for evidence on the major conditions strategy where we are looking at what more we can do to support people with, among other things, muscular skeletal conditions.