The NHS waiting list has fallen, although not by much. The number of patients waiting has fallen from 6.5 million to 6.44 million, while the number of ‘waits’ for procedures and treatments has fallen by just 60,000, from 7.77 million to 7.71 million. On the face of things, this sounds like good news: it is the first fall in the waiting list since November last year. But look a little closer and there isn’t all that much to celebrate. There are still half a million more waits now than at the start of the year.
Today’s numbers are bleak. A number of NHS targets are being missed: most concerningly, waits of over 78 and 104 weeks should have been eliminated by now. Instead, there are 10,500 and 190 patients waiting on these lists respectively. The government is fast approaching its deadline for the abolition of 65-week waits – yet there remains over 107,000 on the list. And another NHS target – that 92 per cent of patients should be seen within 18 weeks of referral – has not been met. A little over half of all cases currently meet this threshold. Although small improvements have been seen, patients are still being left waiting far too long for healthcare.
Accident and emergency departments attendances are at 2.1 million and departments have seen just under 70 per cent of patients within four hours of presentation – a worsening situation on last month – while there were over 144,000 A&E waits longer than 12 hours. It’s not just inconvenience this causes: A&E-related excess deaths have risen by almost a third in one year.