Data from NHS England revealed that 5.12 million people were on the waiting list at the end of April – the highest number since registration began in August 2007. The alarming statistics also showed that the number of people who had to wait more than a year to start treatment remained at 385,490 in April. That’s down from 436,127 in March, but still about 35 times the 11,042 they expected a year earlier.
Dr Nick Scriven, former president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “We are in a terrible state with regard to the record number of people waiting for treatment. The warning signs were clearly visible a few years ago and what we are seeing is the result of a lack of preparation for the inevitable.
“With acute and emergency care under increasing pressure and bed occupancy well above safe levels at more than 90 percent – but with much less impact from Covid at the moment – we have big problems.”
Attendance at A&E in England last month was 65% higher than a year earlier, said the NHS England.
Of those awaiting treatment, 230,278 were in line for cardiac procedures and operations – the highest number since the start of the pandemic. More than 55,000 have waited for 18 weeks – that’s almost a quarter (24 percent).
Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, associate medical director of the British Heart Foundation, warned: “Delays in vital cardiac care can cost lives. We have already seen thousands of deaths from heart disease and stroke in England and monumental delays in care have likely contributed.
“Today’s numbers may indicate green signs of recovery, but there is a long way to go.”
New data showed that the number of people admitted for routine treatment in April was 223,780. This compares to 280,209 in April 2019, a pandemic-free year.
GPs made 209,452 urgent cancer referrals in April, more than double the 80,031 in April 2020. As of April 2019, there were 199,217.
NHS England Medical Director Prof Stephen Powis said: “The average wait for non-urgent care has dropped to 11 weeks. Cancer treatment rates have also returned to normal levels, with nearly 19 out of 20 people starting treatment in one month.”