New statistics released by NHS England have shown that more than 200,000 patients across the country are now waiting more than a year to receive hospital treatment.
Delays to treatment, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, has caused many patients to be facing longer than usual timescales to receive hospital care.
In December 2020, a record 4.52 million patients were on the waiting list.
Responding to the announced statistics, Tim Mitchell, Vice President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said: “Covid-19 continues to take an enormous toll on hundreds of thousands of people across the country left waiting for an operation.
“The number of people waiting over a year for their treatment is now 150 times higher than in 2019. Many are waiting ‘in limbo’, reliant on painkillers, and unable to get on with day-to-day family life or work.
“These figures show the impact on the NHS of lifting the November national lockdown. By Christmas some surgeons were facing the awful job of calling up patients waiting for cancer operations, to tell them they weren’t sure when they would have a bed or the staff in place to operate.
“After a gruelling December, we’re beginning to see infection rates coming down in parts of the country, thanks to the January lockdown. However, many staff are burnt-out from what has been a brutal and traumatic year. They will need time and support to recover.
“Looking ahead to spring, we need a ‘New Deal for Surgery’ with investment in hospital beds and staff, to begin to address the massive backlog of patients still waiting for their operations.”
According to the Referral to Treatment (RTT) figures, some 67.8% of patients were seen within 18 weeks in December 2020 - down from 68.2% in November 2020. Largely impacted due to limitations and challenges of the pandemic, these figures fall significantly short of the usual, legal target of 92% of patients being seen within the first 18 weeks.
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