Record 5.45 million NHS England patients waiting for routine hospital treatment
Written by Hit Music Radio News on 12/08/2021
The number of people in England waiting to start routine hospital treatment has risen to a record high due to the backlog in NHS care as a result of the coronavirus pandemic – and the health secretary has warned it is likely to rise even further.
Around 5.45 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of June – the highest since records began in August 2007, NHS England figures released on Wednesday showed.
It is an increase of around 150,000 in just a month after 5.3 million people were recorded as being on the waiting list at the end of May.
Of those, 68.8% of patients were waiting for treatment to begin within 18 weeks.
However, the latest figures also show that the number of people waiting for more than a year has fallen by 31,930 to 304,803 in June.
This is down from 336,733 the previous month and compares with a peak of 436,127 at the end of March.
The data also shows 230,110 urgent cancer referrals were made by GPs in England in June – up from the 153,543 reported in the same month last year.
Urgent referrals where breast cancer symptoms were present – though not initially suspected – were up from 8,466 in June last year to 13,809 in June 2021.
The total number of people admitted for routine treatment in hospitals was 275,271 – nearly three times the number a year earlier (94,354).
However, the June 2020 figures were lower than usual due to the affect of the first COVID-19 wave.
Although the numbers have increased since last year, they are down on the pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
The total number of A&E attendances in July this year rose by 36.2% to 2,162,799 compared with the same month last year. But again, this was 4.5% lower than in July 2019.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid the health service has “rightly focused” on COVID over the last 18 months and “that has meant, sadly, that waiting lists have risen.
“We estimate there’s probably some seven million people that ordinarily would have come forward to the NHS that stayed away, understandably, during the height of the pandemic,” he said.
“We want those people to come back. I don’t know how many will come back but, even if half of them came to the NHS – and can I just stress I really want people that need to be seen by the NHS to know the NHS is there for them and they should come forward – but as they do I think waiting lists will rise because there will be a huge increase in demand.”
Mr Javid added that the government is “providing the NHS with the resources that it needs”.
“Already this year there’s an extra £29 billion gone into the NHS and social care, and we will certainly be looking again at what more we need to do,” he said.
NHS England said the health service is currently experiencing one of its busiest summers ever, and national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said staff are working to “tackle the COVID backlog”.
The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) warned that there is a massive backlog of people still to come forward for treatment, largely caused by COVID-19.
According to its analysis, almost 14 million people could be on the NHS waiting list in England by next autumn.
The UK reported more than 100 coronavirus-related deaths for the second day running on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, 37,511 people had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine – taking the total to 47,129,400 (89.1% of the adult population).
© Sky News 2020