January 28, 2023

The waiting list for routine NHS operations has fallen for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

Yet about one in eight people (7.19 million) are still stuck in the huge backlog for procedures such as hip and knee replacements.

And 40 percent have been there for at least 18 weeks.

Under the NHS’s own rulebook, all patients have the right to be treated within that time frame.

More than 7.2 million patients in England were stuck in backlog (red line) in October – or one in eight people. More than 400,000 have been queuing for at least a year (yellow bars)

Surgery queues have skyrocketed since Covid took off, with the pandemic and knock-on effects forcing hospitals to re-prioritize their efforts.

Ministers warned that the waiting list would not begin to shrink until 2024, despite plans to get a handle on the growing queues.

But performance data released today by NHS England shows the overall list fell by around 70,000 in November.

However, it reflects the month before the NHS strikes began.

Experts have warned of the potential fallout from the winter walks, which began in December and could continue into spring.

Sir Stephen Powis, NHS England’s national medical director, said: ‘While staff responded to record emergency room visits, 999 calls and emergency ambulance calls as the ‘twinning’ led to unprecedented levels of respiratory illness in the hospital, they also continued to for patients with more people than ever before undergoing diagnostic tests and cancer treatments.

“These numbers show how hard our staff are working, not only under extreme pressure, but also to clear the covid backlogs and check more people for cancer in one month than ever before.

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“The NHS will keep its foot on the accelerator to continue to make progress on the Covid backlog and hospitals have been asked today to ensure that anyone waiting longer than 18 months has their treatment booked by March.

“As services remain under pressure, it is important that the public continues to do its part by using the best services for their care – by using 999 in case of an emergency and otherwise by using 111 online and getting their vaccinations. get if they qualify.’

According to the figures, more than 400,000 people in England have waited at least a year for hospital treatment.

That is about 10,000 less than at the end of October.

The Government and NHS England have set an ambition to eliminate all waiting times of more than a year by March 2025.

In his first major speech of 2023, Rishi Sunak pledged to reduce queues on the NHS. He promised: ‘People get the care they need faster.’

Still, health leaders attacked the prime minister for having “little detail on how this will be achieved.”

NHS bosses are already rolling out virtual wards across England, trying to free up beds in overcrowded hospitals and get more patients treated.

The government is also spending up to £200m to buy beds in care homes, hotels and hospices to free up even more space by getting medically fit patients discharged more quickly.

As well as disrupting efforts to tackle the backlog, the NHS’s bed blocking crisis – believed to be costing taxpayers £2bn a year – plays a major role in the emergency department’s dire situation.

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