NHS treatment waiting times at record high due to Covid-19 pandemic

NHS treatment waiting times at record high due to Covid-19 pandemic

The second wave of Covid-19 in January has significantly affected key services including cancer treatment and routine surgery, with NHS treatment waiting times at a record high, according to figures by NHS England.

The waiting list for operations have reached a record-high of 4.6m, with less than half the expected number of operations being carried out.

Over 300,000 of the people on the waiting list have been waiting for over a year to receive treatment – compared to 1,600 before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tim Mitchell, of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said: “Behind today’s statistics are people waiting in limbo. Many will be in considerable pain, others will have restricted mobility and be at risk of isolation and loneliness. Dealing with this daunting backlog will take time, and also sustained investment in the NHS.”

According to the NHS Confederation, the true figures could be even worse, with close to six million less referrals made last year by GPs in England for routine treatments.

These treatments include operations such as knee and hip replacements.

The organisation, which represents NHS hospitals all over the country, claimed this was perhaps because people have not sought help or have found it difficult to access services because of the impact of the pandemic.

Although the numbers for those starting treatment for cancer and being referred for urgent check-ups returned to pre-pandemic levels late last year, the data for January has proven a decrease in numbers since the beginning of the pandemic.

Just under 23,000 people started treatment, compared to close to 27,500 in January 2020.

Michelle Mitchell, the Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “While it’s positive that urgent referrals did not plummet as they did in the first wave, these January figures show that the pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on cancer patients.”

Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis said: “Admitting more than 100,000 Covid patients to hospital in a single month inevitably had a knock-on effect on some non-urgent care.

“However, thanks to the hard work of NHS staff and the innovations in treatment and care developed over the course of the pandemic, hospitals treated more than one million people with other conditions in January, at the peak of the winter wave, nearly twice as many as they did last April.

“That is a testament to the skill, dedication and commitment nurses, doctors, therapists and countless other staff showed in the most challenging period in NHS history.”

Contact Gi National
Email us: