NHS backlog for routine treatment hits 6MILLION: Crisis continues to bite even before Omicron takes hold as A&E performance plunges to worst EVER level with 10,000 patients left waiting 12 HOURS to be treated
Nearly six million patients in England are on the NHS waiting list for routine treatment, official figures revealed today as hospital bosses warn of ‘sustained pressure’ on urgent care.
Data released by NHS England for October shows 5.98million people were waiting for routine surgery, such as hip and knee replacements, including more than 300,000 who had waited for more than a year.
Hospitals were forced to cancel thousands of operations during the darkest days of the pandemic to make room for the infected, leaving lives ‘on hold’ for thousands of patients battling milder conditions.
The NHS England data shows the mammoth waiting list has nearly reached six million, up from an average of 4.4million in the year before Covid hit the UK.
The health service’s own rules set out that patients should not wait longer than 18 weeks from GP referral to treatment. But a third of patients are not being seen within this timeframe.
More than 2million had been waiting for more than four months — the second-highest figure ever recorded.
And 312,665 — one in 20 patients — were forced to wait for more than a year for treatment.
Meanwhile, A&E attendance data for November shows the number of patients spending more than 12 hours to be seen reached 10,646 — a 51 per cent hike on the figure last month, which was already at a record level.
And 120,749 people had to wait more than four hours to receive care. The figure is the second-highest ever recorded and only slightly fewer than last month.
The proportion of patients seen within four hours at major emergency departments remained at 61.9 per cent for the second month in a row, the lowest number since records began in 2010.
Around 2million people in England sought emergency care last month, six per cent less than October, while there were 506,238 emergency admissions, down two per cent on last month.
Meanwhile, ambulance wait times improved in November as 999 calls fell to the lowest level seen in five months.
NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: ‘These figures show that NHS staff are continuing to address the Covid backlog in the face of sustained pressure on urgent and emergency care.
‘As we head into a very challenging winter, we are working with partners in social care to get as many patients who are fit to do so home for Christmas, which is right for them and their families as well as freeing up beds.
‘There is much we do not know about Omicron but experts advise that vaccines will still help in our fight against the virus.
‘Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers the NHS Covid vaccination programme has delivered more than 100 million jabs, so do come forward when it is your turn.’