More than 660,000 patients are now waiting more than 18 weeks for elective treatment on the NHS, figures show.
The overall waiting list for planned care rose to 4.4 million people in August, with 662,000 waiting more than 18 weeks from referral to treatment – up from 530,000 in August 2018.
Of patients on the waiting list at the end of August 2019, 85% had been waiting less than 18 weeks, thus not meeting the 92% standard.
David Furness, director of policy at the Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN), said the figures show further decline in the NHS’ ability to meet its constitutional targets to treat patients in a timely manner.
“This means more patients waiting in pain for vital treatment such as hip replacements and cataracts and represents ever worsening access to NHS care that the public have a legal right to expect under the NHS constitution,” he stated.
Analysis carried out by IHPN suggests almost one in six households has someone on an NHS waiting list.
“While we welcome the NHS Long Term Plan published earlier this year committed to increasing the amount of planned surgery delivered year on year, including through making use of independent sector capacity, today’s figures demonstrate that we urgently need NHS England to come up with a clear delivery plan to get waiting times down. This must include utilising the spare capacity available in the independent sector and communicating much more effectively the legal rights that patients have to choose the best provider for them,” Furness argued.
Danny Mortimer, deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said the NHS is facing a perfect storm of rapidly rising demand, major staff shortages and the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit. “We need to do all we can to ensure the relentless pressure on staff is somehow eased,” he added.