Surgeons see "light at the end of the tunnel" on long waiting times

THE number of patients waiting more than two years for hospital treatment in England fell by nearly half between January and April 2022, according to data published by NHS England.

The data revealed that 12,735 people were waiting more than two years for hospital treatment in April 2022 compared to 23,778 in January 2022 (the all-time high). Government aims to have no one waiting over two years by the end of June.

However, monthly referral to treatment (RTT) statistics reveal that the waiting list has risen overall to a record high of 6.48 million.

Two-year waits were most commonly for trauma and orthopaedic treatment (such as hip and knee replacements: 3,145), general surgery (such as gallbladder removals and hernia operations: 1,746) or ear nose and throat treatment (1,730).

Mr Tim Mitchell, a consultant, ear, nose and throat surgeon and Vice President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said: “Today’s figures show light at the end of the tunnel for people who have been waiting excessively long for a planned hospital treatment. Surgical teams have been working around the clock to reduce the enormous waiting list which built up during the pandemic.

“However, there are still big challenges ahead… The NHS is creating surgical hubs where planned surgery can happen, but it also needs more staff. Surgical trainees are a key part of the solution, and should be involved in every operation.If we don’t support trainees to progress, they may abandon their training or decide to pursue their careers abroad. That would be a tragedy, and we cannot allow it to happen.”

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