close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
P
Pa
May 14, 2021

England’s NHS waiting list hits record high

P
Pa
May 14, 2021

LONDON: The number of people in England waiting to start hospital treatment has risen to a new record high.

A total of 4.95 million people were waiting to start NHS hospital treatment at the end of March – the highest number since records began in August 2007. Data from NHS England also showed that the number of people having to wait more than a year to start hospital treatment stood at 436,127 in March. This is the highest number for any calendar month since August 2007, when the figure was 578,682. In March 2020, the number having to wait more than a year to start treatment was significantly lower at 3,097.

The NHS data also found that when it comes to key diagnostic tests for conditions including cancer, just over 300,000 patients in England had been waiting more than six weeks for a key test in March.

A total of 305,061 patients were waiting for one of 15 standard tests, including an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy. The equivalent number waiting for more than six weeks in March 2020 was 85,446.

But there was positive news, with 232,084 urgent cancer referrals made by GPs in England in March, compared with 183,603 in March 2020 – a year-on-year rise of 26 per cent.

The 232,084 figure is the highest since records began in October 2009.

Urgent referrals where breast cancer symptoms were present – although not initially suspected – were up from 12,449 in March 2020 to 15,670 in March 2021, a rise of 26 per cent.

Meanwhile, the total number of people admitted for routine treatment in hospitals in England was up 6 per cent in March compared with a year earlier – although this is partly a reflection of lower-than-usual numbers for March 2020, which were affected by the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some 220,349 patients were admitted for treatment during the month, compared with 207,754 in March 2020.

The equivalent figure for March 2019, a non-pandemic year, was 305,356.

NHS England said the health service had seen almost a quarter of a million people with suspected cancer in March as services “began to bounce back” after the peak of the winter Covid wave.

A&E attendances at hospitals in England last month were also more than double the number a year ago, NHS England said – although again this is a reflection of lower-than-usual numbers for April 2020, which were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A total of 1.87 million attendances were recorded in April 2021, up from 917,000 in April 2020. The equivalent figure for April 2019, a non-pandemic year, was 2.11 million.

The figures come as health leaders called for a review of social distancing rules across the NHS to help free up more capacity to tackle the waiting list backlog. In a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, health leaders also asked for increased investment so the NHS can grasp a “summer of opportunity” and ramp up their ability to see as many patients as possible in the next few months.