NHS waiting list breaches 7MILLION for first time ever
The NHS waiting list for routine operations has breached 7million for the first time ever.
This is up from 6.8million in July and is the highest number since records began in August 2007.
It means one in eight people in England are now waiting for NHS treatment,
This figure includes almost 390,000 patients who’ve been forced to wait over a year for treatment.
This is up from 377,689 at the end of July, and is the equivalent of one in 18 people on the entire waiting list.
It comes as after both the Government and NHS England pledged to eliminate all waits of more than a year by March 2025.
Some 2,646 people in England have been waiting more than two years to start routine hospital treatment at the end of August.
This is down slightly from 2,885 at the end of July and a peak of 23,778 in January 2022.
The Government and NHS England set the ambition to eliminate all waits of more than two years, except when it is the patient’s choice or for complex cases requiring specialist treatment, by July this year.
Meanwhile, more than 30,000 A&E patients faced 12-hour waits — a record high.
In addition to a raft of NHS data today there are reports that some heart attack patients are now facing an eight hour wait for an ambulance in some parts of the country.
The NHS waiting list for routine operations has breached 7million for the first time ever. This includes almost 390,000 patients who’ve been forced to wait over a year for treatment
Ambulances took an average of 47 minutes and 59 seconds to respond to category two calls , such as burns, epilepsy and strokes. This is more than twice as long as the 18 minute target
Professor Mama Mamas, a consultant cardiologist in Stoke and Professor of Cardiology at Keele University, told The Independent the situation was a ‘shambles’.
‘I was on call this weekend and I was seeing delays of eight hours. It was several people, three or four this weekend with heart attacks that waited between four and eight hours … it’s a national disgrace that we’re in this situation,’ he said.
‘For the first time in my career, I’ve publicly said, “maybe it’s better to just to get someone to drive you in”.’
NHS data itself shows average response time in September for ambulances in England dealing with the most urgent incidents, defined as calls from people with life-threatening illnesses or injuries, was nine minutes and 19 seconds.
This is up from nine minutes and eight seconds in August, though below the record longest average response time for this category of nine minutes and 35 seconds, which was reached in July.
The target standard response time for urgent incidents is seven minutes.
Patients faced the prospect of facing record waits once they got to A&E.
NHS data shows 32,776 people waited more than 12 hours in September, up from 28,756 in August and the highest number in records going back to August 2010.
The number waiting at least four hours from the decision to admit to admission stood at 131,861 in September, up from 130,528 the previous month but below the peak of 136,298 reported in March.
A total of 71.0% of patients in England were seen within four hours at A&Es last month, the joint-worst performance on record.
The operational standard is that at least 95% of patients attending A&E should be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours, but this has not been met nationally since 2015.
Responding to the waiting list data Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary Wes Streeting said: ‘It is totally unacceptable for millions of people to be left waiting months or even years for treatment, often for painful and debilitating conditions.’
In releasing the data today NHS bosses highlighted figures showing 255,055 people had an urgent cancer check following an urgent GP referral in August, the highest number since records began.
The health service attributed this in part to the ‘Deborah James’ effect encouraging people to get checked for bowel cancer following the campaigner’s death earlier this year.
NHS national medical director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis said the rise in cancer checks came despite ‘huge pressures’ over the summer.
‘This was despite continued pressure from Covid patients in hospital, which has now risen to more than double the numbers seen in August, and more of the most serious ambulance callouts than before the pandemic,’ he said.
The latest figures show that there are 10,522 patients in hospital with Covid – more than double the number seen last month.
He added that the NHS was preparing for a tough winter ahead, and urged eligible people to get their flu and Covid vaccinations.
The NHS is facing a plethora of issues heading into winter, with more than 130,000 vacancies — almost 10 per cent of its planned workforce — with medics warning patient care is suffering as a result.
A shortage of beds due to record numbers of bed blockers, people fit to be discharged but who can’t due to a lack of space in social care, are also compounding issues.
The NHS said only about 40 per cent of patients were discharged when fit to do so in September, with an average of 13,305 beds a day occupied by patients who no longer need to be in hospital.
The lack of beds has seen ambulances stuck in queues for 20 hours outside of hospitals this summer, as emergency medics scramble to find beds for patients. This is had a knock-on effect on response times.