Hospital waiting list in England hits five million

NEW NHS figures show that the waiting list for hospital treatment in England has surpassed five million for the first time since records began in 2007.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England has also highlighted that ‘referral to treatment’ data now show 2,722 people having waited over two years for hospital treatment in the wake of Covid-19.

April 2021 figures show that 385,490 people have now been waiting more than 52 weeks, which is down on the 436,127 in that position last month. In March 2020 – before the suspension of much NHS care due to Covid-19 – just 3,097 patients had faced such a delay.

Mr Tim Mitchell, Vice President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said: "Today we have sadly reached the grim milestone in England of more than 5 million people on the NHS hospital waiting list. Really long waits of more than a year, and in some cases more than two years, are particularly troubling.

"Surgery in many hospitals is almost at pre-pandemic levels, thanks to staff working Saturdays and evenings to catch up. Even though many of them are exhausted from the experience of the last year. Tackling this gigantic backlog requires new investment both in staff and infrastructure. The NHS needs a ‘New Deal for Surgery’. We are calling for the creation of specialist surgical hubs in every region, and a 5-year funding plan that extends the ‘Elective Recovery Fund’."