Hospital waiting list tops 5 million in England for first time
IN England for the first time the number of people waiting for hospital treatment has surpassed five million, according to latest NHS figures.
The NHS England data reveals 5.12 million people had been waiting at the end of April.
However, the number facing waits of over a year has fell for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic. More than 385,000 patients were waiting that long, down by 50,000 on the previous month.
But there were big differences in the numbers waiting over a year across different areas – an analysis by consultancy Lane, Clark and Peacock has found.
Castle Point and Rochford, in Essex, had the highest proportion of people waiting over 52 weeks for care – 573 per 100,000, at the end of March – whereas in south-west London there were just 24.
The age is also a factor as the highest rates of waiting period had the oldest population while the lowest had the youngest, who are less likely to be hospitalised.
But Jonathan Pearson-Stuttard, who led the research, in a BBC report stated that the finding were still “extremely worrying”.
“We know that for many of these conditions longer waiting times are associated with poorer long-term outcomes,” he was quoted as saying.
“Without urgent action targeting areas with the highest unmet need, we risk a generation of patients living in poorer health.”
But Prof Stephen Powis, medical director for NHS England, said despite the “extensive disruption” caused by the pandemic there were “encouraging” signs in the latest figures.
He added there has been progress on long waits, and the numbers being seen by cancer services and mental health were now back to pre-pandemic levels.