The number of people now waiting for over a year for routine NHS treatments in England has skyrocketed by 50,000 in a single month, accordion to the latest data. 578,682 patients were waiting longer than 52 weeks for hospital treatments by March, up from 387,000 at the end of February, and the highest number of year-long waiters since August 2007.
One patient, Carly Cleveland, who has endometriosis, told ITV News that it is ‘pure hell’, adding that dealing with a three-year-old child and being crippled with pain has found her taking three to four-hour-long baths “because it’s the most comfortable place to be,” she said.
In March 2020, the number of people waiting longer than 52 weeks to begin treatment was a mere 3,097, but the NHS waiting list had grown to almost 5 million patients, which is uhh from 4.7 million in February.
The latest data underlines the challenges facing the NHS, with hospitals forced to cancel thousands of routine operations during the coronavirus crisis due to the health service treating 400,000 Covid patients.
While NHS England has announced £160 million in funding for new pilots in 12 areas and five specialist children’s hospitals to trial new ways of cutting the backlog, it did not mention how the extra work will be staffed, and the health service currently has a major workforce shortage of doctors and nurses.
However, the median wait for operations fell last month according to NHS England, showing a sign of improvement, from 12.6 weeks to 11.6 weeks. In comparison, in July the median wait was almost 20 weeks.
NHS England said a record number of people were referred for urgent cancer checks in March, with more than 230,000 people being seen. For every COVID patient treated by the NHS between January and March, 18 non-COVID patients were treated, with 300,000 more diagnostic tests carried out in March than in February.
NHS England has asked hospitals to draw up plans to restart routine services with trusts incentivised with more than £1 billion of funding if they can deliver more operations than previously.
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