pollitician : NHS waiting lists rise for first time in seven months

pollitician : NHS waiting lists rise for first time in seven months
pollitician : NHS waiting lists rise for first time in seven months

Thursday 13 June 2024 10:46 PM

newsonline - The number of people waiting for routine hospital treatment in England has risen for the first time in seven months, new figures show.

An estimated 6.33 million patients were waiting for 7.57 million treatments to be carried out at the end of April, NHS England data shows.

This is up from 6.29 million patients and 7.54 million treatments at the end of March.

NHS waiting lists have become a key focus of the general election campaign.

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Rishi Sunak vowed to tackle the high numbers in January 2023, when it stood at 7.21 million treatments.

On Wednesday night, Rishi Sunak claimed during Sky News' Battle For Number 10 programme that NHS waiting lists are "coming down".

More on Nhs

But he admitted: "We've not made as much progress on cutting waiting lists as I would have liked."

He was booed by the audience, which represented a mix of voters, after he said junior doctors strikes have had an impact on waiting lists.

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The waiting list hit a record high in September 2023, with 6.5 million patients waiting for 7.77 million treatments.

Sir Keir Starmer vowed to bring down waiting lists by creating 40,000 new appointments per week, as one of the first things a Labour government would do.

Tim Gardner, assistant director of policy at thinktank The Health Foundation, said: "With both Labour and the Conservatives promising big improvements in NHS waiting times, today's figures are a stark reminder of the scale of the challenge facing the next government."

He added that while there has been "some progress" in recent months "there is still a huge mountain to climb".

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Lib Dem health spokeswoman Daisy Cooper called on Mr Sunak "to apologise to the public for his failure to get NHS waiting lists down instead of ducking responsibility".

"The prime minister getting booed by the public over soaring waiting lists last night shows just how angry people are with his record of failure," she added.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: "This has blown a hole in Rishi Sunak's claim that the NHS has turned a corner."

He said the PM "can't blame NHS staff... the blame lies solely with the Conservatives".

Junior doctors strike outside the University Hospital of Wales
Image: Mr Sunak blamed junior doctor strikes for long waiting lists

The newest data on England also found:

  • 5,013 patients in England had been waiting more than 18 months to start routine treatment at the end of April, up from 4,770 in March
  • This is despite the government and NHS England pledging to end all waits of more than 18 months by April last year, excluding exceptionally complex cases or patients who choose to wait longer
  • A total of 50,397 patients had been waiting more than 65 weeks to begin treatment at the end of April, compared with 48,968 in March
  • The target to eliminate all waits over 65 weeks was previously March 2024 but has been moved to September this year
  • 302,589 people had been waiting more than 52 weeks to start routine hospital treatment at the end of April, down from 309,300 at the end of March
  • The target is to eliminate all waits of more than a year by March 2025
  • Those waiting more than 12 hours in A&E from a decision to admit to being admitted was 42,555 in May, up slightly from 42,078 in April
  • The number waiting at least four hours from the decision to admit to admission also increased, from 134,344 in April to 138,770 in May
  • 74% of patients were seen within four hours in A&Es last month, down from 74.4% in April
  • A target of March this year was made for 76% of patients to attend A&E to be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours
  • 73.5% of patients urgently referred for suspected cancer in April were diagnosed or had cancer ruled out within 28 days, down from 77.3% in March - below the 75% target
  • GPs made 260,108 urgent cancer referalls in April, up from 254,594 in March, and up year on year from 218,324 in April 2023
  • Patients waiting no longer than 62 days in April from an urgent suspected cancer referral or consultant upgrade to their first definitive treatment for cancer was 66.6%, down from 68.7% in March - the target is 85%

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