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Patient waiting lists increase by 180% in four years, RCS finds


By Carolyn Wickware
5 June 2017

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The number of patients waiting for treatment has increased by 180% in the last four years, an analysis from the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) has found.

In March 126,188 patients were waiting more than six months for treatment, compared to 45,054 patients in March 2013.

In response the RCS has announced plans to analyse six and nine month waits in the NHS, following concerns that no political party announced plans to deal with rising waiting times.

The number of patients waiting for treatment has increased by 180% in the last four years, an analysis from the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) has found.

In March 126,188 patients were waiting more than six months for treatment, compared to 45,054 patients in March 2013.

In response the RCS has announced plans to analyse six and nine month waits in the NHS, following concerns that no political party announced plans to deal with rising waiting times.

The data collected by the RCS found that some specialties experienced particularly steep increases in waiting times with the number of ear, nose and throat patients waiting longer than six months increasing by 256% and dermatology patients wait lists increasing by 330%.

Other waiting list increases included:

  • Urology – 199% rise
  • General surgery – 146% rise
  • Oral surgery – 146% rise
  • Brain and spinal surgery – 145% rise

Clare Marx, president of the RCS, said the data showed a ‘grim reality of the financial pressures facing the NHS’.

She said: ‘Many of these patients are older and in the most serious cases, such as for brain surgery, waiting longer could have a big effect on the quality of someone’s life and their eventual recovery from surgery.’

She urged all political parties to prioritise ‘timely access to surgery’, adding that the NHS is ‘seriously short’ of overnight beds resulting in the increasing waiting times.

However an NHS England spokesperson said the number of patients waiting for more than a year for treatment has been cut by nearly 13,000 over the past five years.

They added: ‘While the Royal College of Surgeons understandably lobbies for more spending on surgeons, in the real world they aren’t the only call on constrained NHS funding, which also has to support extra investment in GP services, modern cancer treatments, and expanded mental health services.’

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