Waiting lists for routine NHS treatment such as hip and knee surgery are at their highest for a decade, official figures have show
An estimated four million people were waiting to be seen by a specialist at the end of June, the first time the figure has been exceeded since 2007.
Experts said the milestone marked a “symbolic” moment for the under-strain health service, as statistics revealed the number of people waiting more than 18 weeks for consultant-led treatment, which the NHS says should be the maximum time it takes to start treating them, has steadily increased.
Across the first six months of 2017, an average of 369,007 patients had been waiting longer than 18 weeks to start treatment after being referred by their GP.
This average figure for the same period in 2016 was 289,195 and in 2015 it was 208,489.
The data also shows that the the NHS in England has now gone two years without meeting its target for seeing people in A&E within four hours.
In July this year, 90.3% of patients spent four hours or less in A&E, missing NHS England’s 95% target, which was last achieved in July 2015.
Dr Mark Holland, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “This shocking figure is another damning indictment of the crisis we are experiencing in the NHS and is another example of how every unresolved problem impacts on another area.
“It is a fact that the NHS has less beds than other health economies and it is a fact that we have a workforce crisis.
The latest figures also show that in June, two of NHS England’s eight cancer targets were not met either, including the 85% standard for 62 days between referral from a GP and first treatment.
Only 80.5% of patients began their first definitive treatment within 62 days of an urgent GP referral where cancer was suspected.
A spokesman for NHS England said nine out of 10 patients were being admitted, treated, and transferred or discharged from A&E within four hours, which was “up on the May 2017 performance”.
He said: “Reducing delays for patients awaiting discharge from hospital remains a key priority ahead of winter, and it is positive that NHS-related delays are lower this year than last.”
This article was taken from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/10/nhs-waiting-lists-longest-decade/