NHS England data for September shows 12.4 per cent of the 1.6 million awaiting a diagnostic test had been on the list longer than 13 weeks. The share of referrals waiting more than three months for a diagnostic test is worse than at any point since February 2021, during the second national covid lockdown.
At the peak of June 2020, 32 per cent waited more than 13 weeks, but the proportion dropped back beneath one in 10, in May 2021, as services ramped up activity following the impact of the major winter 2020-21 covid wave.
Delayed diagnostics are a major cause of the NHS’s poor performance on cancer waiting times. Echocardiography patients and those needing endoscopies had the highest proportion of patients waiting more than six weeks – these specialties jointly comprise about a third of the total national waiting list and had 48 and 38 per cent respectively of their lists over six weeks.
Full story in the HSJ, 10 November 2022