More Peterborough patients waiting for treatment at North West Anglia Trust

More patients joined the waiting list for routine treatment at North West Anglia Trust in September, figures show.

Monday, 29th November 2021, 7:33 pm
There has been a 62% rise on patients on routine treatment waiting lists since September last year

The King’s Fund health think tank warned the NHS is “on its knees”, as the number of people waiting to start treatment across England reached another record high.

NHS England figures show 59,548 patients were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust at the end of September – up from 57,841 at the end of August.

This was also 62% more than in September 2020, when there were 36,858 patients on the waiting list.

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The median waiting time from referral to treatment was 13 weeks in September, compared to 10 weeks a year previously.

Nationally, 5.8 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of September – the highest number since records began in August 2007, and the 12th successive record high.

Of them, 12,491 had been waiting longer than two years – more than four times the 2,722 patients waiting this long in April.

Deborah Ward, senior analyst at the King’s Fund, said: “Today’s stats reveal the worst performance since current records began for ambulance calls, A&Es and waits for planned hospital care.

“In a normal year any one of these would ring alarm bells; taken together before winter has even begun, they suggest a health and care system running hot for such a sustained period whilst still dealing with Covid-19, it is now on its knees.”

The Health Foundation said patient care was being impacted by delays to cancer treatment, record waits for ambulances and A&E, and an overstretched workforce.

Tim Gardner, senior fellow at the Health Foundation, added: “With waiting lists at an all-time high, millions of patients and staff are feeling the impact of a health system struggling to cope with demand.

“The Government has said that the NHS is under ‘sustainable pressure’, but it would be extraordinary to look at what’s happening in the NHS right now and claim that it is sustainable.

“That we are facing pressures this significant before we have reached the peak of winter is concerning, particularly as cases of seasonal viruses and rising staff absences are likely to add further pressure.”

Separate figures show 1.4 million patients in England were waiting for a key diagnostic test in September – the highest number since records began in January 2006.

At North West Anglia Trust, 15,799 patients were waiting for one of 15 standard tests, such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy at this time.

Of them, 6,366 (40%) had been waiting for at least six weeks.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England national medical director said: “Despite high demand, NHS staff are going above and beyond to see more patients and deliver millions more tests, checks, treatments and operations.

“Increasing numbers are coming forward for treatment and this is expected to go up, but it remains really important people do not delay seeking help from the NHS if they feel unwell.”