Elderly patient leaving hospital

NHS staff facing record demand but continue to reduce longest waiters

With their herculean efforts set to continue well into the winter months, NHS staff have managed to reduce the number of people waiting 18 months for treatment by nearly 60% in the last year.

The latest figures show that the 78-week waiting list stood at almost 125,000 in September 2021 and has now been slashed all the way down to approximately 73,000.

The progress comes after the second most productive September ever, with more than 1.3 million non-emergency patients getting treatment in a health setting.

All in the face of the most demanding October on record for A&E attendances and the most serious ambulance callouts – more than 2.1 million patients presented at Emergency Departments last month and ambulance services responded to nearly 84,000 life-threatening incidents.

The work also comes in spite of challenges with patient flow, with the month of October seeing more than 13,000 patients spending more time in hospital than they needed to, every single day. A figure tantamount to one in every 10 beds over the course of the full month.

NHS Medical Director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, said: “There is no doubt October has been a challenging month for staff who are now facing a ‘tripledemic’ of Covid, flu and record pressure on emergency services with more people attending A&E or requiring the most urgent ambulance callout than any other October.

“Pressure on emergency services remains high as a result of more than 13,000 beds taken up each day by people who no longer need to be in hospital. But staff have kept their foot on the accelerator to get the backlog down with 18-month waiters down by three-fifths on last year.

“We have always said the overall waiting list would rise as more patients come forward, and with pressures on staff set to increase over the winter months, the NHS has a plan – including a new falls service, 24/7 war rooms and extra beds and call handlers.”

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