World News

NHS waiting list for routine ops reaches ANOTHER record-high of 6.1mil

NHS waiting list for routine ops reaches ANOTHER record-high of 6.1M people amid warnings it could almost double by 2024 – as damning figures show A&E delays are soaring and fewer cancer patients than ever are being treated within 2-month target

  • NHS England data shows 6.1million people were waiting for treatment by December, the highest ever figure
  • The number of people in the queue for at least one year rose to 310,813, growing 39 per cent year-on-year
  • And 20,065 had been waiting for two years or more by the end of 2021, the NHS statistics show

The number of patients on the NHS backlog in England has soared to a new record of 6.1million, amid warnings the figure could double over the next two years.

Data from the health service shows one in nine people in the country were waiting for routine treatment — such as joint replacement and cataract surgery — or diagnostic tests at the end of December. 

The figure is the biggest since records began in 2007 and 2million higher than March 2020, when Covid hit the country and effectively ground elective treatment to a halt.  

It comes after Health Secretary Sajid Javid set out plans to help the NHS in England recover from Covid, admitting the backlog will keep growing for two years. 

Official forecasts from the health service estimate the backlog could nearly double by March 2024 and peak at 10.7million. It also estimates 200,000 people in England will be waiting more than a year by 2025. 

The NHS December data shows the number of people who had been in the queue for treatment for at least one year rose to 310,813 in December, growing 39 per cent year-on-year. 

And 20,065 had been waiting for two years or more by the end of 2021 — eight times higher than the number forced to wait 24 months in April 2021.

Mr Javid said one-year waits won’t be abolished until 2025, while two-year waits won’t be eradicated until July. 

The blueprint was slammed as now ambitious enough by Tory MPs, while Labour accused it of falling ‘seriously short of the scale of the challenge facing the NHS and the misery affecting millions of people stuck on’ waiting lists. 

Meanwhile, the NHS figures show more than 16,000 people in England were forced to wait in A&E for more than 12 hours in January — the highest figure ever recorded. And the proportion of patients seen within the health service’s four-hour target remained below 75 per cent for the fourth month in a row.

Cancer targets continued to fall short, with the proportion of patients diagnosed or given the all clear within 28 days and the proportion of cancer patients who start treatment within two months dropping to their lowest ever rates.

Labour slammed the statistics, warning patients are waiting ‘longer than ever before, often in pain and distress’.

But Stephen Powis, NHS England’s national medical director, said the grim numbers reflect the pressures the Omicron wave placed on the health service, with record infection rates causing up to 50,000 absences per day.

Data from NHS England shows one in nine people in the country were waiting for routine treatment — such as joint replacement and cataract surgery — or diagnostic tests at the end of December

Queues for routine operations are expected to peak in 2024 at around 10.7million in the most pessimistic scenario, modelling from the NHS shows. It is because the health service expects many patients who missed operations to now come forward for care

Other estimates showed up to 200,000 people could still be on waiting lists for more than a year by 2025 under the most pessimistic scenario. This was despite Health Secretary Sajid Javid saying year-long waits would end by this date

The statistics show the number of people admitted for routine treatment in hospitals in England in December was 225,912 – up 18 per cent from a year earlier (191,541), but the lowest figure since May. The equivalent figure for December 2019, a non-pandemic year, was 252,228.

Meanwhile, a record 16,558 people had to wait more than 12 hours in A&E departments in England in January from a decision to admit to actually being admitted.

The figure grew 28 per cent in a month, up from 12,986 in December, and is the highest since records began in August 2010.

Some 122,427 people waited at least four hours from the decision to admit to admission in January, another all-time high and an increase of two per cent from 120,218 in December.

Overall, 74.3 per cent of patients in England were seen within four hours at A&Es in January, up slightly from 73.3 per cent in December but down on the 78.5 per cent in January 2021.

Although it is being scrapped, the current target is for at least 95 per cent of patients attending A&E to be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours. But this has not been met nationally since 2015. 

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting said: ‘Record numbers of people are waiting for care and they are waiting longer than ever before, often in pain and distress.

‘The Conservatives are so incompetent they’ve come up with a plan that sees patients paying more in tax but waiting longer for care.’ 

But the NHS defended its performance, saying staff delivered 120,000 more tests and checks in December 2021 compared to December 2020, alongside 13million boosters jabs in December.

Professor Powis said: ‘While seasonal pressures are ongoing, we are now beginning to see the full picture of the Omicron winter on the NHS, and despite sky-high staff absences, hardworking NHS staff continued to make inroads on the backlog that has inevitably built up.’

He added: ‘NHS staff are committed to bringing down the backlog and the clear plan published this week will help increase the number of checks, tests and treatment provided for patients.’ 

Source: Read Full Article