Boris Johnson has promised to give the NHS the cash it needs to tackle waiting lists that have built up during the pandemic.

It comes after new data showed 4.7 million people were waiting for routine procedures, the highest figure since 2007.

Speaking during a visit to Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, the Prime Minister said: "This a real priority now for our country - 4.7 million people on waiting lists.

"Of course, it's been exacerbated, it's been made worse, by Covid, people I don't think have been going to hospital, haven't been going to use medical facilities in the way that they might have been throughout the pandemic.

"We do need people to take up their appointments and to get the treatment that they need.

"We're going to make sure that we give the NHS all the funding that it needs, as we have done throughout the pandemic, to beat the backlog.

"We've put about £92 billion already extra into the NHS this year and we're going to do whatever it takes.

"But the NHS has done an incredible job so far. I've no doubt that they're going to be able to tackle this as well."

The PM said clearing the backlog would be a 'real priority'
The PM said clearing the backlog would be a 'real priority'

Mr Johnson also said he agreed "thoroughly" with Lord Pickles that reforms were required when it came to monitoring the relationship between the private sector and the civil service.

Boris Johnson's comments come after Lord Pickles, chairman of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba), said it was unusual that the former head of government procurement, Bill Crothers, was able to have a part-time role with Greensill Capital signed off before he had left Whitehall.

Speaking to broadcasters at Dartmouth College in Devon, Mr Johnson said: "I think the most important thing is for us to get to the bottom of it properly and I want all ministers and civil servants to be making the information that needs to be known known to Mr Boardman and let's see what he has to say.

"You're absolutely right, we need to understand what's gone on here.

"I agree thoroughly with Lord Pickles."

The PM said his thoughts were with the Queen again after he visited Dartmouth where she is said to have first met her husband the Duke of Edinburgh, who died last week.

He told broadcasters: "I'm here at the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, which is the college from which the Duke of Edinburgh himself passed out, became an officer in 1940 before going on to have that amazing distinguished Navy career - the Battle of Cape Matapan, Sicily and then seeing the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay."

He added: "And you've just seen those wonderful cadets become officers themselves and incarnating the finest traditions of the Royal Navy, in the way the duke did himself.

"And actually, funnily enough, here in this very garden, I think in 1939, the Duke of Edinburgh met the then Princess Elizabeth for the very first time, so our thoughts are with her again today."