Waiting Times

NHS Waiting List Tops 5.8 Million

More than 5.8 million patients were waiting to receive treatment from the NHS in September, the highest reported figure since August 2007. In addition, last month saw a record number of calls to ambulance services, with response times also experiencing a significant increase. The Independent has the story.

The average response time for category two patients who needed emergency, but not life threatening, care such as strokes, was nearly 54 minutes, which is the longest average waiting time since records began in 2017.

Response times for urgent calls, such as late stages of labour, non-severe burns and diabetes, averaged three hours, nine minutes and 58 seconds. This is up from two hours, 35 minutes and 45 seconds in September, and again is the longest average since current records began.

The Independent has previously revealed ambulance response times doubled during the pandemic, as all 10 ambulance services raised their alert levels to the highest point.

The investigation found a 26% spike in the most serious incidents reported by paramedics so far in 2021 compared to the whole 12 months of 2019, before the Covid pandemic began.

Patients waiting for more than 12 hours in A&E also reached the highest levels ever in October, with 7,059 waits recorded. This is more than five times higher than the number of 12 hour waits recorded in October 2020, which saw 1,268 patients waiting.

Meanwhile there were 121,000 patients waiting over four hours in A&E, following a decision to admit, during the same month, which is the highest number on record.

The number of patients waiting more than year for treatment has also risen for the first time in five months, from 292,138 in August to more than 300,566 in September.

A total of 12,491 people in England were also waiting more than two years to start routine hospital treatment at the end of September 2021.

This is up from 9,754 at the end of August and is more than four times the 2,722 people who were waiting longer than two years in April.

Worth reading in full.

People in Poor Regions Almost Twice as Likely to Wait More than 12 Months for Hospital Treatment

People living in some of England’s poorer regions are more likely to be forced to wait longer to receive routine treatment on the NHS, according to a new analysis. Waiting lists are also growing at a faster rate in these areas, where people are less likely to be able to afford private healthcare. The Telegraph has the story.

Data from The King’s Trust and Healthwatch England found that 7% of people waiting for treatment in the poorest regions will wait more than 12 months. 

However, for the most affluent areas, this figure is just 4%. …

From April 2020 to July 2021, waiting lists have swelled by 55%, on average, in the most deprived parts of the country compared with 36% in the richest areas.

Despite the efforts of NHS staff during the pandemic, the backlog has grown to 5.61 million people – almost one in every 10 people in England.

The NHS has now been told by the watchdog to ensure people have “interim support” in place while it tackles the record backlog of untreated patients. 

The analysis comes as a poll Healthwatch England exposed the toll the waiting list is having on people’s physical and mental health.

A survey of 1,600 people who were either on the waiting list themselves or had a loved one in need of treatment, found that 54% said it was affecting their mental health while 57% said the wait was affecting their physical health.

And 48% did not have any support to manage their condition during their wait.

Almost one in five (18%) have already gone private for treatment or are considering it, but 47% said that paying for private treatment “was not an option”.

Worth reading in full.

The Staggering Inadequacy of NHS Scotland

We’re publishing a guest post today by a parent who lives in a village just outside Edinburgh who had a terrible experience with NHS Scotland yesterday. His six month-old son developed serious breathing difficulties, he called 111, was told an ambulance was on its way and then, 45 minutes later, a dispatcher called to tell him the ambulance wouldn’t arrive for another 12 hours. Here is the opening section:

It happened quickly and out of the blue. We’ve three young children – a six year-old, three year-old and our six month-old ‘lockdown baby’. Any parent with children in an education or nursery setting will tell you that from September to June they spend 80% of that time with a cold, cough, sneeze or sniffle. On occasion, it can be much worse. Our eldest once had scarlet fever and had to be rushed to hospital while he was having a sleepover at his grandparents. He was fine but they’ve never quite recovered. After your first sprog, you tend to roll with the punches and are able to tell if something is seriously wrong and make plans accordingly.

We were not, however, prepared for the events of this week. Having inherited a lurgy from his siblings, the baby hacked his way through the past seven days. His temperature soared now and then but we brought it down with sleep, Calpol and Ibuprofen.

On Monday we realised it was getting worse. His breath came in short gasps; he was managing only every third inhalation to get oxygen into his tiny lungs. We live in Scotland so it was also the September holiday weekend, meaning the older children were around our feet until the babysitter arrived. By evening, we decided that if the baby could get a long sleep it might nail whatever he was struggling with internally. He didn’t. When he refused to eat, drink and had a dry nappy we knew the game was up.

I’m 40 now but when I was a child I had bad asthma – meaning regular visits to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee. I grew up in a town 15 miles from Ninewells and when anyone in our household became ill we could telephone our local GP who would – if required – visit our house. It didn’t matter whether it was day or night. This was the case for both adults and children; my father when he crumpled with appendicitis and we children when suffering a fever.

As a rule, I have a soft spot for things from the past. I like old cars with roaring petrol engines. I admire the quality craftsmanship of Edwardian and Victorian furniture. I love gothic fiction. Yet I am also a progressive in its true sense. I’m receptive to new ideas and fascinated by technology. I listen to others’ opinions even if inside I’m thinking “what total crap”.

My experience this week, however, has confirmed that the health service in Scotland is gasping its last breath. Rather like my son could have done had we not taken matters into our own hands.

worth reading in full.