NHS patients waiting for hospital care top 4m for first time in a decade

More than 4 million patients are waiting to be admitted to hospital in England to have surgery, the highest number in 10 years, the latest official NHS performance statistics reveal.

Hospital bosses said the figure, and a series of missed performance targets on A&E and cancer care, showed that the health service was now unsustainable. Shortages of money, staff and care outside hospitals to keep patients well meant that it could not cope with an ongoing and unprecedented rise in demand, they said.

“The current system is unsustainable. We simply do not have the resources to deliver what the public now expects,” said Danny Mortimer, the deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation.

Just over 4 million patients were waiting to undergo non-urgent operations such as a cataract removals and hip replacements at the end of June – the highest figure since August 2007 and the second highest on record.

The shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said: “It is staggering that this government have allowed the NHS waiting list to rise over 4 million. A year of Theresa May’s mismanagement of the NHS has pushed services to the brink and left thousands more waiting in pain for routine operations.”

Gordon Brown’s Labour government first obliged hospitals to treat 92% of people waiting for planned hospital care within 18 weeks in 2007, under what is called the referral to treatment (RTT) care pathway, because too many patients were waiting too long. There were 4.1m patients on the first waiting list in August 2007, but the total came down to below 2.5 million in 2009 and 2010. It hit 3.5 million again last year and had been creeping towards the 4 million mark since.

Article from The Guardian, 10 August 2017