The NHS’s waiting lists have skyrocketed to a new record, amid warnings that the health service is already at ‘breaking point’ before winter pressure has begun.
Official figures show that at the end of September, 7.1 million people in England were queuing for routine hospital treatments, such as hip and knee surgeries, the equivalent of one in eight people. The figure includes more than 400,000 people who have been waiting for more than a year, often in pain.
The numbers reflect the situation before winter pressures, such as an expected rise in Covid and flu admissions, were felt in hospitals. And it’s ahead of union action by NHS nurses, who are expected to see thousands of surgeries and treatments canceled for days on end as the NHS is reduced to a ‘bank holiday’ service on strike days.
Meanwhile, emergency room performance has deteriorated to new lows. More than 1,400 ED visitors had to wait more than 12 hours for care in October, while the lowest rate ever recorded was seen within four hours – the NHS target.
And cancer care hit its worst-ever performance in September, with just six in 10 newly diagnosed patients starting treatment within two months. Top oncologists warned there is a “real and frightening possibility” that the government will not provide the sufficient investment needed to catch up and more lives will be lost.
The NHS England waiting list rose to 7.1 million in September, the highest figure ever
At the end of September, a total of 7.1 million people were waiting to start treatment, NHS England said.
This is an increase of 7.0 million in August and is the highest number since measurements began in August 2007.
The number of people waiting more than 12 hours in ED wards in England for a decision to admit to actually being admitted has risen to a new all-time high.
New data from NHS England shows 43,792 people waited longer than 12 hours in October, a 34 percent increase from 32,776 in September and the highest number in records dating back to August 2010.
The number of waiting times of at least four hours from the decision to be admitted also reached a new high of 150,922 in October, compared to 131,861 the previous month.
A total of 69.3 patients in England were seen in ED within four hours last month, the worst performance ever and the first time it has fallen below 70 percent.
The operational standard is that at least 95 percent of patients entering the ED must be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours, but this has not been achieved nationwide since 2015.
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