According to the BBC, nearly seven million patients are on National Health Service (NHS) waiting lists for care in England. The data came from a recent NHS report, which found 6.84 million people waiting for some type of care. These figures are up from 4.2 million before the Covid pandemic. Also keep in mind the population of England is about 56 million people so approximately 1 out of every 8 people living in England are on an NHS waiting list.
As of July 2022:
- Slightly more than four million patients had waited up to 18 weeks.
- More than two million patients had been waiting from 18 weeks to one year.
- Approximately 200,000 had waited more than one year.
The NHS also reported that at the start of the year 22,000 people had waited more than two years, while an additional 50,000 were approaching mark.
Waiting lists fell during Covid but it’s not really a sign of progress as people probably decided to forget care during a pandemic. Since July 2020 waiting lists have increased by more than 50%. It’s not just for surgery, waits in emergency departments are also rather high. Nearly 30% of emergency patients had to wait more than four hours for emergency care.
Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust, a health think tank, said the figures showed what a “monumental challenge” the government faces. “The new prime minister inherits an NHS in a critical condition,” he added.
In July the BBC reported the long waits were forcing some patients to pay privately for care that is supposed to be provided by the National Health Service.
There were 69,000 self-funded treatments in the UK in the final three months of last year – a 39% rise on the same period before the pandemic.
Experts said it was a sign of how desperate people had become.
The BBC has seen evidence of people taking out loans and resorting to crowdfunding to pay for private treatment.
All told 250,000 English patients paid cash for procedures last year. These figures do include those with private health insurance. It also makes me wonder if there aren’t millions more who have given up and not bothered to seek care they know will be hard to obtain.