More Than a Million People Waiting at Least Six Months for Vital NHS Services in England Alone

Close to 1.2 million people in England alone are being forced to wait for at least six months to access vital NHS services. So much for “Protect the NHS”! And “the waiting list figures are going one way only – up”, warns the Chief Executive of the Patients Association. The Guardian has the story.

The May 2021 figure is almost five times that recorded in the same period in 2019 , before the pandemic hit, and also includes patients requiring gynaecological services.

Senior doctors said such long delays were causing patients to be left in pain, while experts said the full impact of the pandemic may not yet be known. …

Rachel Power, the Chief Executive of the Patients Association, warned: “The waiting list figures are going one way only – up. And they won’t come down until the NHS can deliver activity faster than patients are presenting with new need.” …

Though the vast majority of patients are supposed to be seen within 18 weeks, six-month waiting lists have doubled for ear, nose and throat services and gastroenterology services when compared to the same period in 2020.

The number of patients waiting for gynaecological services stood at 15,647 in May 2019, rising to 48,168 in May 2020 before reaching 87,628 in the same period this year.

Dr Edward Morris, the President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said the college was very concerned that women were having to wait far too long to be diagnosed.

“The current backlog we are facing in gynaecology is made up of people needing clinically urgent treatment, so many women are being left in pain with these benign conditions.” …

In May, more than 336,000 patients were waiting for treatments for at least a year, with almost 21,000 in Birmingham university hospital alone.

The hospital also recorded the longest median wait time, with patients waiting an average of 18 weeks, while some patients were waiting even longer for certain treatments. …

The figures come just before NHS England releases its latest monthly statistics on waiting times for treatments including A&E care, surgery and cancer care, which officials believe will be grim reading.

An NHS spokesperson said: “Despite the significant disruption caused by the pandemic, with staff treating 410,000 seriously ill Covid patients and launching the biggest and fastest vaccination programme in our history, NHS services continued to be available for patients who needed them, and are now making good use of the £1 billion in additional funding for elective recovery.

“The number of routine treatments and operations performed by NHS staff is increasing, with cancer and mental health services back at pre-pandemic levels, and so we continue to urge anyone who needs the NHS to come forward so we can help you.”

Worth reading in full.

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