Awaiting list of the NHS hits new record of 7.68m people.

Record High Waiting Times for Hospital Treatment in England

Mounting Waiting Times

The number of individuals in England waiting to commence routine hospital treatment has reached an all-time high, according to NHS England. By the end of July, an estimated 7.68 million people were awaiting treatment, an increase from 7.57 million in June. This figure represents the highest number since records began in August 2007.

Criticism from Shadow Health Secretary

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting criticized the government for the deteriorating situation, stating that “the NHS is no longer there for them when they need it” for millions of patients in England.

Government’s Commitment to Reducing Waiting Lists

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had prioritized reducing waiting lists for 2023, pledging in January that waiting lists would decrease, and individuals would receive care more promptly.

Concerns Over Long Waits

While ministers had been asserting that the overall waiting list was growing but the number of people waiting over a year for treatment was declining, the latest figures paint a different picture. At the end of July, 389,952 individuals in England were waiting over 52 weeks for routine hospital treatment, up from 383,083 in June.

Ambition to Eliminate Long Waits

The government and NHS England have set an ambitious target to eliminate all waits exceeding a year by March 2025. In July, an estimated 7,289 people in England had been waiting for over 18 months for routine hospital treatment, an increase from 7,177 in June. The original goal was to end all waits exceeding 18 months by April this year, except for highly complex cases or patients choosing extended wait times.

Cancer Referrals and Targets

In July, GPs in England made 263,696 urgent cancer referrals, a 10% increase year-on-year from July 2022. However, the percentage of cancer patients seeing a specialist within two weeks after urgent GP referrals declined from 80.5% in June to 77.5% in July, below the 93% target.

Changes to Cancer Targets

Several cancer targets, including the 93% target for seeing a specialist within two weeks, are set to be discontinued from October. This is part of an agreement between the government and NHS England to streamline performance standards. Nonetheless, 62.6% of cancer patients who received their initial treatment in July within two months after an urgent GP referral met the target of less than two months.

Diagnostic and Treatment Timelines

The proportion of patients urgently referred for suspected cancer who were diagnosed or had cancer ruled out within 28 days increased from 73.5% in the previous month to 74.1% in July, just shy of the 75% target. This particular target will also remain one of the performance standards beyond October.

World News

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