More than 7 million U.K. citizens are on a waitlist for routine care procedures under the country’s state-run health care program, a new record for the country.
Of the 7 million people waitlisted at the end of August, 387,257 had been waiting for more than a year to begin health care treatments, according to Sky News. The August waitlist numbers are up from 6.8 million people in July, which was the previous highest record since the U.K. started recording the statistic in 2007.
Stephen Powis, the national medical director of the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS), argued his organization is doing “incredible” work.
“Despite huge pressures on the NHS this summer, the incredible work of colleagues across the country meant that in August we delivered more potentially life-saving cancer checks than ever before and cut 18-month waits by 60% over the last year,” he told Sky News.
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“This was despite continued pressure from Covid patients in hospital, which has now risen to more than double the numbers seen in August, and more of the most serious ambulance callouts than before the pandemic,” he added.
The U.K.’s health care strain comes as both the country and the rest of Europe are struggling with an energy crisis.
The nation’s government has warned residents that it may be necessary to impose three-hour nightly power blackouts if gas supplies fall short in the winter. Officials said the possibility was unlikely, however.
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Europe’s energy strain comes thanks to Russia limiting exports of gas and oil to Europe in response to NATO countries’ extensive economic sanctions over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.