NHS waiting list hits record high breaching 7million for the first time ever

13 October 2022, 10:12 | Updated: 13 October 2022, 10:39

NHS waiting lists reach record high
NHS waiting lists reach record high. Picture: Alamy

By Stephen Rigley

A record high of 7 million patients are waiting for NHS care as A&E performance sinks to a new low, NHS data reveals.

A total of 7.0 million people in England were waiting to start treatment at the end of August, according to the new figures.

This is up from 6.8million in July and is the highest number since records began in August 2007. 

The number includes almost 390,000 patients who've been forced to wait over a year for treatment and comes after both the Government and NHS England pledged to eliminate all waits of more than a year by March 2025.

Some 2,646 people in England have been waiting more than two years to start routine hospital treatment at the end of August. This is down slightly from 2,885 at the end of July and a peak of 23,778 in January 2022.

The Government and NHS England set the ambition to eliminate all waits of more than two years, except when it is the patient’s choice or for complex cases requiring specialist treatment, by July this year.

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The figures also show that more than 30,000 A&E patients faced 12-hour waits — a record high.

NHS data itself shows average response time in September for ambulances in England dealing with the most urgent incidents, defined as calls from people with life-threatening illnesses or injuries, was nine minutes and 19 seconds.

This is up from nine minutes and eight seconds in August, though below the record longest average response time for this category of nine minutes and 35 seconds, which was reached in July.

The target standard response time for urgent incidents is seven minutes.

Patients that did get to A&E also faced the prospect of facing record waits. NHS data shows 32,776 people waited more than 12 hours in September, up from 28,756 in August and the highest number in records going back to August 2010.

The number waiting at least four hours from the decision to admit to admission stood at 131,861 in September, up from 130,528 the previous month but below the peak of 136,298 reported in March.

A total of 71.0% of patients in England were seen within four hours at A&Es last month, the joint-worst performance on record.

The operational standard is that at least 95% of patients attending A&E should be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours, but this has not been met nationally since 2015.

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