NHS Waiting Times increase significantly
The amount of people waiting more than one year for routine hospital care is now 100 times higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic. Alarming figures from NHS England show the number waiting 12 months for hospital care to start had increased from 1,305 in September last year to 139,545 this September. The data provides a clear picture of the knock-on effect of halting many non-emergency procedures for patients during the first wave of the virus in Spring 2020. Royal College of Surgeons President Professor Neil Mortensen has called the list length a “national crisis” that could take two or three years to tackle.
Despite the stark waiting times for routine procedures, surgical operations are being carried out once more and the average wait time has begun to fall for patients. Urgent cancer check appointment wait-times are back to normal, and patients who need to start cancer treatment are being facilitated in doing so. The King’s Fund lamented the huge pressures facing the NHS restart and threat of future infection waves. “With nearly 140,000 people now waiting over a year for care and the worst of winter yet to come, it’s clear the NHS won’t be back to ‘normal’ any time soon”, said Siva Anandaciva, the Fund’s chief analyst.
An NHS England spokesman said: "Although COVID-19 hospitalisations almost doubled during November, for every COVID inpatient the NHS treated, hospitals managed to treat five other inpatients for other health conditions.” The number of long waits for routine care is now at its highest since 2008, with the Royal College of Surgeons warned patients were being left in pain unable to carry on with "day-to-day life".