NHS failure to meet waiting times targets risks patients’ lives

The Public Accounts Committee report on NHS waiting times was released 12 June 2019. In summary, it states that more and more patients are being let down by the NHS’s continued failure to meet deadlines for waiting times. The percentage of patients treated within waiting times standards continues to get worse for both elective (non-urgent care) and cancer treatment. The committee states that it is unacceptable that less than half of NHS trusts and foundation trusts (trusts) meet the 18-week waiting times standard for elective treatment, and only 38% meet the 62-day standard from referral to treatment for cancer patients. The committee notes that the waiting list for elective care has grown by one and a half million since March 2013 to 4.2 million in November 2018.

The committee was also concerned that the national bodies responsible for setting and managing waiting times appear to lack curiosity regarding the impact of longer waiting times on patient outcomes and on patient harm. The committee views the long-term funding settlement for the NHS, the NHS Long Term Plan, and the current review of waiting times standards to present an opportunity to get the NHS back on track in meeting waiting times standards.

The full report can be found here