193,000 NHS patients a month waiting beyond target time for surgery

An increasing number of patients are having to endure long waits for operations, according to a study that provides the latest evidence of the NHS’s failure to meet waiting time targets because hospitals are so busy.

Analysis by the Royal College of Surgeons found that over the past year an average of 193,406 people a month did not get surgery within 18 weeks of being referred.

The figure compares with 139,240 the previous year and 105,427 four years ago, and is the NHS’s worst performance by this measure since 2008. It covers patients waiting for operations including for broken limbs, traumatic injuries, brain conditions and eye problems.

Ian Eardley, the college’s vice-president, said: “We are now struggling to meet the standards and timeliness of care that the public rightly expect. Waiting longer creates prolonged pain, uncertainty and immobility for patients and is stressful for them and their families, especially those who may be very ill or in significant pain.

“Many of these patients are older and in the most serious cases, such as heart or cancer surgery, waiting longer could have a big effect on the quality of someone’s life and their eventual recovery from surgery.”

He said the sharp rise in the number of patients waiting longer than 18 weeks suggested the NHS had passed a tipping point.

Full story in The Guardian 13 January 2017