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NHS facing 'biggest pressure in history', Matt Hancock warns
18 June 2021, 06:06 | Updated: 18 June 2021, 11:40
The NHS is facing a backlog twice as big as previously feared, Matt Hancock has warned.
The Health Secretary told the NHS Confederation conference that up to 12.2 million people are in need of elective procedures delayed due to the pandemic.
This includes 5.1m people already on waiting lists.
Health bosses believe there could be as many as 7.1m additional patients who stayed away from hospitals because of the risk of Covid-19.
Mr Hancock told the NHS conference that there is “another backlog out there” and that he expected the numbers to rise even further.
NHS leaders have warned the backlog could take five years to clear.
Matt Hancock said: "We can all see demand returning and our emergency departments filling up. We know that there are already 5.1 million people in England waiting for care at this moment.
"We know the 5.1 million doesn't yet include the returning demand of people who have not come forward for care during the pandemic but are now regaining the confidence to approach the NHS.
"Even with the system running at 100 per cent, even with everybody working incredibly hard for that demand comes back, we would have the biggest pressure on the NHS in its history."
Prof Chris Whitty, England's chief medical officer, said the current wave of cases would "definitely translate into further hospitalisations".