There are 3.7 million people waiting for routine care, such as knee and hip replacements – up 44% since 2012.
Nearly a tenth of people on the list have waited more than the 18-week target for treatment to start.
is despite hospitals operating on more patients. The Department of
Health said current investment would mean the NHS did “better in the
The total number of “long waiters”, for whom the 18-week
target in England has been missed, now exceeds 350,000 – a rise of 163%
in four years. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have also seen pressures grow –
meaning no part of the UK is meeting its target to see patients.
Royal College of Surgeons president Clare Marx said the picture was
“very disappointing” as these operations and treatments could make a
huge difference to people’s lives.
“Someone waiting for a gall-stone removal will be in a lot of pain and discomfort.
“The longer you wait for a hip or knee replacement the less likely you are to have good outcomes. These waits really matter.
“The standards of care are being eroded and we don’t want it to get worse.”
But Richard Murray, from the King’s Fund think tank, predicts the numbers on the waiting list will keep rising.
He expects to see the total break through the four million barrier by the spring.
“If you go back 15 years waiting lists were longer, but it is now heading in the wrong direction.”
How ‘long waiters’ have risen since 2012
England: Up 163%
Northern Ireland: Up 95%
Scotland: Up 82%
Wales: Up 74%
The figures are the percentage rise in the number of waits over the target time for treatment in each nation
The latest figures cover the month of November and
mean the target for the NHS – that at least 92% of patients on waiting
lists will not have been waiting over 18 weeks – has been missed since
February last year.
A Department of Health spokesman said the NHS
was having to treat more patients – 5,000 extra a day compared with 2010
– so the levels of performance were actually a “tribute” to the work of
He said the investment being made in the NHS this
Parliament would help “transform services” and mean the NHS will do
“better in the future”.
The targets for routine treatments are
measured differently in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but all
show a similar picture.
In Wales, 95% of patients are supposed to
start treatment within 26 weeks. This target has not been met since
August 2010 and the number of long waiters has risen by 74% to 60,643 in
Scotland’s target is for 90% of patients to start
treatment within 18 weeks. This has been missed since June 2014. The
number waiting longer than 18 weeks was up 82% over that period at
Northern Ireland has a target of 55% per cent of patients
waiting no more than 13 weeks for an operation. The number waiting
longer than that was up 95% in the four years to September 2016.
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