The number of patients waiting longer than 6 months to start planned NHS hospital treatment has now officially exceeded 200,000.
NHS England ‘referral to treatment’ (RTT) statistics for May 2018 published today show that 211,324 patients waited more than 6 months to start planned treatment. The number of patients waiting more than 6 months for treatment is 48.4% higher than the same time last year.
The Government’s target of 92% of patients being seen within 18 weeks remains unmet for the 27th consecutive month, not having been met since February 2016. 88.1% of patients were seen within 18 weeks – it was 90.4% in the same period last year. The number of patients waiting longer than 18 weeks for planned treatment in May 2018 was officially 485,201.
The waiting list size is estimated by NHS England to be at 4.3 million.
Miss Susan Hill, Senior Vice President of the Royal College of Surgeons and a vascular surgeon, 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.”