Data from NHS England has revealed 5.12 million people were on NHS waiting lists at the end of April – the highest figure since records began. The number of people waiting 52 weeks or more for treatment is now 35 times higher than in April 2020.
The number of people waiting for hospital treatment in England has topped five million for the first time, the latest figures show. The data showed 5.12 million people were on waiting lists at the end of April, with more than 385,000 patients waiting over a year. Before the pandemic, just 1,600 had been waiting this long. These are the highest figures the NHS has seen since records began in August 2007.
Dr Nick Scriven, past president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “We are in a dire state when it comes to record numbers of people waiting for treatment. With acute and emergency care under increasing strain and bed occupancy well over safe levels at more than 90 percent – yet with far less impact from Covid at this point – we have major problems.”
But Prof Stephen Powis, medical director for NHS England, said despite the “extensive disruption” caused by the pandemic there were “encouraging” signs in the latest figures. As well as the progress on long waits, he said the numbers being seen by cancer services and mental health were now back to pre-pandemic levels.
Despite this small positive, the numbers from the NHS are worrying, and could cause organisations to have lengthy staff absences due to waiting times for NHS treatment.
The effects of the extensive waiting lists could be mitigated in organisations by taking out a group private medical insurance policy (PMI). Designed to support employee wellbeing, PMI in many cases allows for faster access to consultations, diagnosis and treatment; which ultimately can result in a faster recovery period and faster return to work, benefitting both employee and employer. With this number of people on waiting lists, there is likely to be a considerable back log for some time yet.
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