Empty waiting room

Major milestone: NHS all but clear backlog of longest two-year waiters

The NHS have announced that they have “virtually eliminated” all of the longest two-year waiters today, marking a significant milestone in their bid to tackle the mammoth backlogs built up during the pandemic.

The Elective Recovery Plan’s first step centred around ensuring those who have been waiting for two years or more for treatment, were seen by the end of July – excluding those who opted to wait longer for their treatment, those who refused to travel to get treated sooner, and those who had very complex cases thus needed specialist treatment.

At the start of the year 22,500 people had been waiting for two years or more for treatment, with another 51,000 who would’ve surpassed a two-year wait by the end of the July – the NHS have reduced this mountainous backlog down to just 2,777 patients, which includes 1,579 who have decided to defer their treatment and a further 1,030 who are very complex cases.

NHS Chief Executive, Amanda Pritchard, said: “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our staff the NHS has delivered the first milestone in our Elective Recovery Plan.

“It has only been possible because the NHS has continued to reform the way we deliver care, using innovative techniques and adopting pioneering technology like robot surgery, and through building new relationships and mutual aid arrangements across systems to offer patients the opportunity to be transferred elsewhere and get the care they need as quickly as possible.

“The next phase will focus on patients waiting longer than 18 months, building on the fantastic work already done, and while it is a significant challenge our remarkable staff have shown that when we are given the tools and resources we need, the NHS delivers for our patients.”

The recovery comes despite the NHS continuously dealing with elevated levels of Covid-19 infection, with 220,000 individuals receiving treatment for the virus since the Plan’s release in February.

NHS staff will soon clear the last remaining patients who have waiting two years or more and will set about the next phase of the most ambitious catch-up plan in history.

Danny Mortimer, Deputy Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “This is an important milestone for the NHS whose teams have been working exceptionally hard to recover their services after the worst of the pandemic. They have been performing thousands of operations a week leading to many hospitals being able to clear their longest waiting lists even before the July commitment.

“However, with the overall waiting list for elective care continuing to grow nationally, they know that this vital work has not finished. They will continue to do everything they can for their patients, in the face of profound challenges and while also tackling other waiting lists around mental health, community and primary care which warrant equal attention.”

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