NHS backlog for routine treatment hits 6 MILLION: Crisis stalls even before Omicron gains foothold as emergency room performance plummets to worst ever with 10,000 patients still waiting 12 HOURS to be treated
Nearly six million patients in England are on the NHS’s waiting list for routine treatment, official figures revealed today, as hospital bosses warn of ‘continuing pressure’ on emergency care.
Data released by NHS England for October shows that 5.98 million people waited for routine surgeries, such as hip and knee replacements, including more than 300,000 who had waited more than a year.
Hospitals were forced to cancel thousands of surgeries during the darkest days of the pandemic to make way for the infected, leaving life ‘on hold’ for thousands of patients battling milder conditions.
The health service is under pressure from the Covid-fuelled backlog, aiding the vaccination campaign and shortages in the social care sector, leaving one in 10 hospital beds occupied by people well enough to be fired.
Meanwhile, emergency room performance fell to its worst level ever, with record numbers waiting more than 12 hours to be seen and the percentage of patients seen within the four-hour target remained at its lowest for the second month in a row. level.
Data from the NHS England shows the mammoth waiting list has reached almost six million, up from an average of 4.4 million in the year before Covid hit the UK.
The health service’s own rules state that patients may not wait longer than 18 weeks from the GP’s referral to treatment. But a third of patients are not seen within this time frame.
More than 2 million people have waited for more than four months – the second highest figure on record.
And 312,665 — one in 20 patients — had to wait more than a year for treatment.
Separate data on emergency room visits in November shows that the number of patients taking more than 12 hours to be seen reached 10,646 – a 51 percent increase from the previous month’s figure, which was already at a record high.
And 120,749 people had to wait more than four hours for care. The figure is the second highest on record and only slightly less than last month.
The percentage of patients seen at the major emergency department within four hours remained at 61.9 percent for the second month in a row, the lowest number since registration began in 2010.
About 2 million people in England sought emergency care last month, six percent less than in October, while there were 506,238 emergency admissions, two percent less than last month.
Meanwhile, ambulance wait times improved in November as 999 calls fell to their lowest level in five months.
About 879,192 calls were made, which is 29,000 per day, which is 10 percent less than last month, but 11 percent more than in November 2019 and 34 percent more than the same month in 2020.
And the average response time of ambulances to Category 2 calls, including stroke and other emergencies, was 46 minutes 37 seconds, down from the response time of 53 minutes 54 seconds in October. But the wait was much more than double the health service’s own target of 18 minutes.
Ambulance staff answered nine in ten calls within an hour, 40 minutes and 57 seconds, compared to the target time of 18 minutes.
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS National Medical Director, said: ‘These figures show that NHS staff are continuing to clear the Covid backlog despite continued pressure on urgent and emergency care.
“As we head into a very challenging winter, we are working with partners in social care to get as many patients as possible who are able to go home before Christmas, which is good for them and their families, and to free up beds.” .
“There’s a lot we don’t know about Omicron, but experts advise that vaccines will still help in our fight against the virus.
‘Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers, the NHS Covid vaccination program has delivered over 100 million shots, so come forward when it’s your turn.’