Over 200,000 patients waiting over six months for treatment

New NHS England statistics show that the number of patients waiting longer than six months to start planned NHS hospital treatment has now exceeded 200,000.

The ‘referral to treatment’ figures for this May reveal that 211,324 patients waited longer than six months to start planned treatment, which is 48.4 per cent higher than the same time last year.

The data also highlights how the government target of seeing 92 per cent of patients within 18 weeks has now been unmet for 27 consecutive months, with 88.1 per cent of patients seen within 18 weeks. This is a drop on the 90.4 per cent figure for the same period last year. The number of patients waiting longer than 18 weeks for planned treatment in May 2018 was officially 485,201.

Susan Hill, senior vice president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said: “Six months will be too long to be waiting for treatment for some patients. It is extremely stressful for patients and their families to have to wait this long. These patients will be in severe pain and discomfort, possibly unable to work or carry out daily tasks.

“Not enough has been said about how the NHS plans to deal with the backlog of patients that built up over last winter. Hospitals must get their waiting lists under control before the next winter creeps up and we find ourselves in an even worse position. The NHS has been promised a very welcome birthday cash injection which we hope will help hospitals begin to chip away at these very long waiting times. Meeting planned surgery targets must be prioritised in the NHS’s forthcoming 10-year plan.”

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