Waits for treatment drop as NHS bounces back

The number of people waiting longer than 18 and 52 weeks to begin non-urgent treatment has fallen significantly despite record numbers of people attending A&E in June, NHS figures today reveal.

Patients waiting longer than 18 weeks for elective care dropped by more than 80,000 while those waiting more than a year fell by 50,000 for the second month in a row.

The average wait for elective care was 10.8 weeks in May, down by 29% on May 2020, the new figures showed.

New analysis also published today revealed seven cancer patients have started their treatment for every one COVID patient being admitted to hospital in April and May this year.

Hospitals admitted a total of 12.8 million patients in 2020-21, with 30 people receiving care for non-COVID conditions for every one person admitted with the virus.

The NHS is investing an additional £1billion in extra ops and treatments to restore services and cut backlogs that have built up while 405,000 people needed hospital treatment for COVID.

Some £160 million is being ploughed into test sites trialling new ways of working such as one stop diagnostic shops which have increased the number of scans performed by 25% in Lancashire.

Meanwhile, hardworking NHS staff also had to deal with more than 2.1 million attendances at A&E last month.

A&E attendances were up 53% on the same month last year and 2.4% on June 2019, before the pandemic began. There were also a record number of attendances at major departments with July and August set to follow suit.

The best way to seek urgent care is by first calling 111 or using 111-online for an assessment that will refer to the most appropriate service available. In June, more than 75,000 patients were booked arrival timeslots at an Emergency Department or Urgent Treatment Centre by using 111.

NHS Medical Director, Professor Stephen Powis, said: “Despite the huge disruption we have seen to care caused by the pandemic and the more than 405,000 COVID patients in our hospitals over the last 15 months, it is reassuring to see in today’s figures significant reductions in waits for routine operations, and for the first time this year, a reduction in the number of patients waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment.

“All the while, NHS staff have dealt with rising numbers of A&E attendances while continuing to roll out the NHS COVID Vaccination Programme and I would urge anyone who needs a routine operation to come forward, and anyone who needs urgent care, to go to NHS 111 Online or call 111 so that the best option for you can be determined.”

It comes as ambulance call-outs also remained high, with 783,050 incidents last month, still 80,000 more than in the same month two years ago.

In separate GP data, also revealed today, patient satisfaction was up for the first time in five years, with more than four in every five patients having a good experience with their local practice.

Meanwhile, the number of people getting checked for cancer continues to be high and above pre-pandemic levels with 207,188 people getting checked in May – over 100,000 more than in the same month last year.

Almost 25,000 people started treatment for cancer in May with the overwhelming majority starting within a month.