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Nearly 6.5 million people waiting for hospital treatment in England

View profile for Sarah Masters
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Latest NHS figures show that a record high of nearly 6.5 million people in England are waiting for hospital treatment. The demand for hospital treatment has increased significantly in the past two years as a result of the backlog caused by the covid-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic in February 2020 there were already 4.43 million people waiting for hospital treatment.

The current wait list equates to one in nine people in the population waiting for hospital care. On the wait list one in 20 people have been waiting for more than one year.

There are fears that there is also a ‘hidden backlog’ growing of patients that require care but have not yet sought help or have had their referrals cancelled.

The NHS data also shows that cancer targets continue to be missed. Only 79% of patients are being seen within two weeks of an urgent GP referral for suspected cancer when the target it 93%. This target has now not been met since May 2020. In addition, almost 35% of patients are waiting more than two months for treatment.

In a bid to tackle the wait list, patients who have been waiting over two years are being offered surgery in different areas with the NHS funding their travel and accommodation costs. More than 400 patients have already confirmed they are willing to travel in order to receive quicker treatment. There are currently 6,700 patients who have waited over two years for treatment. This figure has fallen by 15,000 since its peak of 22,500 in January 2022.

The NHS has set a target to ensure no patients have been waiting more than two years for treatment by the end of July 2022, except for those patients who choose to wait longer or patients in highly specialised areas that may require a tailored plan.

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