Waiting room

Waits for non-urgent treatment reduce considerably

According to figures published by the NHS, the number of people waiting more than 18 and 52 weeks for non-urgent treatment reduced considerably. This is given that there were record numbers of people attending A&E in June.

Elective care patients waiting longer than 18 weeks decreased by more than 80,000, and those waiting more than a year, fell by 50,000 for the second month in a row.

According to the data, in May 2021 the average wait for elective care was 10.8 weeks, which was down by 29% compared to May 2020. For every Covid patient admitted to hospital during April and May this year, seven cancer patients started treatment.

Another important step forward regarding those getting cancer checks, is that this continues to be 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. For every one person admitted with Covid, 30 people also received treatment for non-covid conditions.

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.”

In a bid to restore services and reduce backlogs, the NHS is also investing an additional £1bn in extra operations and treatments. Testing sites trialling new ways of working such as diagnostic shops will also receive funding of £160m. Services like this have meant that the number of scans performed has increased by 25% in Lancashire.

NHS staff also had to deal with more than 2.1 million attendances at A&E last month. Patients attending A&E were up 53% compared to the same month last year, and 2.4% compared to June 2019, before the start of the pandemic.

It highlights the impact placed on ambulance services during the pandemic, with call-outs remaining high, where they were dealing with 783,050 incidents last month, which is still 80,000 more than in the same month two years ago.

When it comes to separate GP data, 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.

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As was outlined by Sir Simon Stevens when the NHS announced their green plans back in 2020, 5,700 lives could be saved each year by improved air quality. Even more could see their overall health improve and be in a position to self-manage their conditions, rather than requiring NHS treatment. Covid-19 has already left the NHS with a sizeable treatment backlog, so anything which can be done to improve patient health and reduce demand is beneficial for all.

Working together, we can help the NHS realise its green ambitions as per the Net-Zero National Health Service report and its ambitious 2040 target. Join us on August 25, 2021 for our Net-Zero NHS event, where we will be joined by health sector leaders and innovators for a day of sharing best practice and networking.

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