HOSPITAL bosses fear their worst ever winter as nurses strike and waiting lists continue to grow.
Some 85 per cent of chief execs say they’ve never been more worried — and half predict their NHS trust will miss surgery and cancer targets.
Eight in ten NHS trusts already fail to meet targets for seeing suspected cancer patients within two weeks of a GP referral
Many warn staff are “frightened” by the expected surge in demand ahead of possible walkouts by nurses and industrial action votes by doctors, paramedics, midwives, therapists and porters.
Last month saw England’s worst ever performance on A&E, ambulance time and cancer appointment targets.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies predicts the waiting list — now 7.1million — will hit 8 million unless clinics speed up.
Saffron Cordery, chief of NHS Providers, which carried out the poll, said: “We have to push for the Government to get around the table with the unions, either averting strike action before it happens or entering into negotiations now.”
Researcher Max Warner said waiting lists will grow if the NHS keeps “failing to translate additional resources into additional activity”.
Hospitals have been told to clear all patients who have been on the list for 18 months or more by April 2023.
Eight in ten NHS trusts already fail to meet targets for seeing suspected cancer patients within two weeks of a GP referral.
And 60 per cent are failing to treat 96 per cent cancer patients within a month, NHS figures show.