Sajid Javid claims that “shocking” government modeling indicates the current waiting list of 5.3 million people could more than double by the end of the year.
This includes up to seven million people who did not make it to hospital during the height of the crisis for fear of catching coronavirus, he said.
“What shocked me the most was when I was told the waiting list was going to get worse before it got better,” he told the Sunday Telegraph.
“Hearing that 13 million figure totally focused my mind, and that will be one of my top priorities to deal with because we can’t have it. “
Current NHS waiting lists in England have been the longest since 2007.
Experts in cancer, stroke and heart disease care have consistently warned their fields are being ignored, while COVID-19[feminine[feminine takes precedence.
But Mr Javid told the Telegraph he was “not just the COVID Secretary of State ”and that he plans to contract out care to private hospitals and increase the use of virtual appointments to help deal with the backlog.
He warned that the lists would “take a considerable amount of time to clear”, in part because of the “very British” attitude of those who did not want to burden health services with symptoms in the first and second waves.
Mr Javid also confirmed reports that the NHS COVID app could be changed to reduce the high number of isolates after being ‘pinged’.
The minister said the government was considering the possibility of “treating people differently depending on whether they are vaccinated or not.”
It comes as separate reports claim ministers are trying to halve the required gap between vaccine doses.
The Times reports that Number 10 has asked the Joint Committee on Immunization and Immunization (JCVI) to initiate an urgent review of the current eight-week gap.
Politicians and scientists are desperate to administer as many bites as possible amid the spread of the more contagious Delta variant.
At Wembley before Euro England-Italy final On Sunday, the NHS urges fans to get the vaccine at the same time if they haven’t already.
Professor Stephen Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England, said: ‘The vaccine is England’s best defense, protecting yourself, your family and loved ones against COVID, so be a team player and get your two vaccines in what is a two shot game. ”