Patients waiting 13 weeks for routine treatment

Tuesday 26th April 2022 6:00 am
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Patients were waiting an average of 13 weeks for routine treatment at the Wye Valley Trust in February, figures show.

The King’s Fund think tank said another national record for the number of people on hospital waiting lists shows the strain on the NHS is reaching “unacceptable levels”.

NHS England figures show the median waiting time for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at Wye Valley NHS Trust was 13 weeks at the end of February – the same as in January. However, this was shorter than the average 16-week wait a year previously.

There were 18,211 patients on the waiting list in February – up from 17,969 in January, and 14,743 in February 2021.

Of those, 1,055 had been waiting for longer than two years.

Nationally, 6.2 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of February.

This is up from 6.1 million in January and the highest number since records began in August 2007.

But the figures also show that while the overall waiting list has continued to grow, the number of people waiting more than a year and two years have both fallen.

Danielle Jefferies, analyst at The King’s Fund, said the latest national figures show pressures are now reaching “unacceptable levels” in all parts of the health and care system.

She added: “A&E departments remain full of patients in need of urgent care, and separate data shows a similar story in general practice and social care.

“In March, 22,500 people waited over 12 hours to be admitted to hospital from A&E – a more than thirty-fold increase compared to a year ago.”

Separate figures show 1.5 million patients in England were waiting for a key diagnostic test in February – the same as in January.

At the Wye Valley Trust, 7,350 patients were waiting for one of 13 standard tests, such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy at this time. Of them, 3,865 (53%) had been waiting for at least six weeks.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that there are 20,000 medically-fit patients who cannot be discharged due to pressures on social care.”

“Trusts are also grappling with the ongoing impact of Covid-19,” he added.

“That’s meant more patients with Covid-19 in hospital beds, more staff off work with Covid-19, and more delayed discharges than anyone was expecting or had predicted.”

Other figures from NHS England show that of 73 patients urgently referred at the Wye Valley Trust in February, 49 received cancer treatment within two months.

A month previously – when 86 patients were referred – 59 were treated within 62 days.

In February 2021, 47 patients were treated within this period, out of 75 that were referred.

NHS England national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: “Nobody should be under any illusion about how tough a job NHS staff have on their hands, balancing competing priorities and maintaining high quality patient care.

“Despite pressure on various fronts and the busiest winter ever for the NHS, long waits fell as staff continue to tackle two-year waits by July thanks to the innovative approaches to care they are now adopting.”

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