The UK government Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay has written to the devolved administrations inviting them for talks about how all parts of the UK can work together to tackle long-term waiting lists in all parts of the UK.

NHS services across the UK are a devolved matter, but Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made cutting waiting lists a priority across the UK. Although approaches taken across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland share many common features, significant variations in outcomes exist. In Wales, more than 73,000 people are waiting over 77 weeks for treatment, and at least 21,600 people are waiting over 78 weeks for an outpatient, day case or inpatient appointment in Scotland. In England, waiting times for patients over 78 weeks have been virtually eliminated.

In his letter, the Secretary of State writes that he would be open to requests from the devolved administrations to allow patients in Wales and Scotland who are waiting for lengthy periods to choose to be treated at providers in England, NHS or independent sector – building on the current arrangements for cross-border healthcare.

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