Surgery waiting lists at all-time high

11 Aug 17

The number of patients on waiting lists for surgery has reached an all-time high, according to official figures. 

There are now more than 4 million patients waiting for planned surgery in the NHS - the highest level since records began in 2007, NHS England performance figures out yesterday showed.

Since July last year there has been a 280,000 rise in the number of people on waiting lists, 2,550,755 people waited over four hours to be seen in A&E, an increase of 460,530, the number of bed days lost due to delayed transfers of care jumped by 366,032 to a total of 2.2 million. 

There were also 80,664 cancelled elective operations, equivalent to about 1,551 per week, an increase of 3,775.

Phillippa Hentsch, head of analysis at NHS Providers, said: “There is clearly an urgent need to put in place additional capacity to cope with the pressures of the coming winter.”

She urged the government to find between £200m and £350m to plug the current capacity gap.

Danny Mortimer, deputy chief executive of NHS Confederation and chief executive of NHS Employers, speaking about the NHS performance figures, said: “The current system is unsustainable: we simply do not have the resources to deliver what the public now expects.

“Performance against these targets shows the system is under pressure and needs transformation and investment, which could include moving more care outside of hospitals.”

Richard Murray, director of policy at The King’s Fund, stated the figures were symbolic of the problems facing the NHS and added that it was “unrealistic” to continue to be able to offer the same standards of care within the current budget.

A spokesperson for NHS England highlighted out that it was carrying out almost 50,000 more operations a month than last year as demand from an elderly population continued to rise.

“Last month 1.4 million patients started consultant-led treatment, and more than nine out of ten patients were waiting less than 18 weeks. We’re working hard to cut long waits," he said. 

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