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Six million people could be on NHS waiting lists by 2024

Almost a fifth will wait longer than 18 weeks, says IHPN

Almost six million people could be on waiting lists for operations such as hip replacements and cataract surgery by 2024, the Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN) has predicted.

IHPN chief executive David Hare: The capacity to slash waiting lists already exists – so why not use it?

Its forecasts suggest the number of people on waiting lists for planned treatment in England will jump by a third from the current 4.6 million.

Meanwhile, the number of people having to wait longer than the NHS’ 18 week target for care will rise to over one million.

David Hare, chief executive of the IHPN, said the figures demonstrate just how far patients’ access to vital NHS treatment will deteriorate over the next Parliament unless urgent action is taken.

“With the public routinely stating that a lack of access to NHS care is the biggest driver of dissatisfaction with the health service, the government must now prioritise cutting waiting times for surgery such as hip and knee operations and cataracts, without which many millions of people will be left in unnecessary pain with the potential for more complex medical conditions to develop,” he warned.

  • The total number of people officially waiting for treatment to begin is likely to be around 5.79 million
    compared to the current 4.42 million.
  • When taking missing data into account due to trusts that do not report their waiting times, the total
    number of people waiting is likely to be around 5.98 million.
  • The number of people waiting for longer than 18 weeks is likely to rise to around over 1 million.
  • The percentage of patients beginning treatment within 18 weeks is likely to decrease from the current 84.4% to around 81.4% (the target is 92.0%)

Source: IHPN

Hare added that NHS providers alone will not be able to meet rising demand for care and it is therefore important that the significant capacity available in the independent sector is used to help ensure patients can be treated as quickly as possible.

“A key part of this will be putting more power in the hands of patients and ensuring they are supported to exercise their legal right to choose where they receive their NHS care, including in the independent sector, who offer services to patients paid for at NHS prices, to NHS standards and free at the point-of-use,” he stated.