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Record-high number of non-urgent patients awaiting op as July piles on pressure

The number of patients waiting over a year for non-urgent surgery across England has risen to its highest rate in more than six years, performance figures show.

With 3,517 patients waiting for their operation, mounting demand and pressure on frontline services— as attendees to A&E soar to over 2.1 million in July due to unprecedented temperatures— many are left waiting despite former health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s pledge in 2014 to end the “unacceptable” waits.

The 3,517 patients are an increase of more than 400 from May, reaching the highest level since April 2012, the NHS’s quarterly performance figures indicate.

NHS Confederation deputy chief executive Danny Mortimer said the statistics show a whole system— from A&E to primary care— is “under relentless pressure.”

“The heatwave has meant no respite, with emergency attendances up nearly 5% on last year and condemning the NHS to yet another month of missed A&E targets,” he added.

“It is now clearer than ever that a system-wide approach is essential to provide more care in the community, reduce the strain on hospitals and prevent NHS and care services from falling over.”

Temperatures during July were the third warmest on record; an average of 17.2C during last month, leading to admissions of 2,176,022 during July. That’s the most since records began in 2010.

NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said the “exceptionally high” numbers of patients admitted has led to more patients waiting longer to be seen, with performance against staff targets slipping further.

As little as 83.5% of the 1.37 million people who went to A&E were treated within four hours, falling short of the 95% target.

“All of this is a symptom of an NHS running at boiling point all year round,” Hopson added.

“We need urgent decisions about how we properly invest and put in place the necessary staff, beds and resources we need to deliver what is required of the NHS throughout the year. Time is running out to put plans in place for sufficient capacity ahead of this winter.”

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Image credit: Andrew Matthews PA Images


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