The number of NHS patients waiting over 18-weeks for vital surgery such as hip and knee replacements has risen by almost a quarter in just one year, new NHS performance stats have revealed.
Today’s figures show that more than 672,000 patients are now waiting over 18-weeks for treatment, a rise of 122,000 in just 12 months.
With the total number of people waiting for care reaching a record 4.4 million, and next year marking the fourth anniversary of the NHS’ 18 week referral to treatment target for planned care last being met, it is therefore vital that whichever party forms a new Government in December, improving patients’ access to care is made a top priority.
Key to cutting NHS waiting times will be ensuring that all available capacity in the healthcare system, including in independent providers, is utilised to ensure patients can access the fastest possible care.
Ahead of the three many parties setting out their manifesto commitments on the NHS, IHPN are warning that the ‘misplaced politics of privatisation’ must not reduce the ability for independent providers to support the NHS in delivering vital patient care. New analysis from the network, which represents independent providers of healthcare services, has found that if existing annual NHS contracts with independent private hospitals were terminated it would have a significant impact on patient care, with waiting times increasing by over 50 per cent after 12 months. This would require more than 40 new hospitals needing to be built to replace the lost capacity in some specialties.
David Hare, Chief Executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network said:
“With NHS waiting times at a record high it is vital that the next Government prioritises cutting waiting times for patients and takes urgent action to ensure the 18-week target can be met once again. But this simply cannot be done without making use of the significant capacity available in the independent sector – cutting this vital supply off would simply lead to patients facing even greater waits for care and require in excess of 40 extra hospitals to be built just to stand still.”