Sajid Javid denies report Treasury held up NHS recovery plan to reduce record treatment backlog

Delays are having a massively detrimental impact on some patients, as Health Editor Emily Morgan reports

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has denied reports that a plan to tackle the backlog of patients on hospital waiting lists in England has been put on hold amid claims of wrangling at the top of government.

The wide-ranging plan by NHS England to reduce the record six million patients waiting for non-urgent operations and procedures had reportedly been expected on Monday.

However, sources have told ITV News the delay stems from mounting tensions between the chancellor and prime minister. They added that the treasury is reluctant to help a PM it views as outgoing and living on borrowed time.

Treasury sources insist the plan wasn’t ready and the delay was a joint decision with the NHS.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid denied Rishi Sunak had caused the delay and insisted the plan would be published shortly.

"The Treasury is one of my best partners in putting together this plan," he told ITV News, adding that the chancellor had "already committed" the money needed to implement it.

Asked if Mr Sunak supported the prime minister sufficiently, Mr Javid said "yes" as he insisted the chancellor and prime minister have a "crucial" relationship.

The reported wrangling comes at a time of heightened tension between No 10 and the Treasury.

Last week chancellor Rishi Sunak publicly distanced himself from a widely discredited claim by Boris Johnson that Sir Keir Starmer failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile when he was director of public prosecutions.

Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation who previously advised Tony Blair, said the situation was reminiscent of the end of the Blair years.

“Increasingly getting the sense that Johnson now faces the same (but more intense and short term) challenge Tony Blair had in his third term,” he tweeted.

“Namely that HMT is loath to agree to any No 10 plans involving money as the chancellor sees these as opportunistic and wasted on a dying administration.”

Mr Javid said they had originally intended to publish the plan in December but it had been put on hold because of the Omicron outbreak.

But Labour's Jon Ashworth suggested the delay shows the government is "more focused on saving Boris Johnson" than it is on the needs of the British people.

He told ITV News: "The fact that this has been cancelled today suggests to me that this is a government in complete chaos - completely mired in scandal."

Meanwhile, the DHSC announced details of a new NHS website which patients will be able to access ahead of planned operations to see waiting times information for their trust.

The My Planned Care platform is due to go live on the NHS website later in February, and will be accessible to patients, family members, carers and medical professionals.