The number of people facing “long waits” for hospital treatment in England has more than doubled in the past four years, figures show. Patients needing routine care such as knee and hip replacements are meant to be treated in 18 weeks under NHS rules.  But the numbers waiting longer than that now top 350,000, 163% rise since 2012. There are 3.7 million people in total on the waiting list. The government promised the NHS would do “better in the future”. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have also seen pressures grow – meaning no part of the UK is now meeting its target to see patients. Royal College of Surgeons president Clare Marx said the picture was “very disappointing” as these operations and treatments could make a huge difference to people’s lives. “Someone waiting for a gall-stone removal will be in a lot of pain and discomfort.”The longer you wait for a hip or knee replacement the less likely you are to have good outcomes. These waits really matter. “The standards of care are being eroded and we don’t want it to get worse.” But Richard Murray, from the King’s Fund think tank, predicts the numbers on the waiting list will keep rising. The total of 3.7m is a 44% increase since 2012, but he expects to see the trend continue and break through the four million barriers by the spring. “If you go back 15 years waiting lists were longer, but it is now heading in the wrong direction.”

No Comments

Leave a Comment