Responding to the latest NHS performance figures showing there are now 4.4 million people waiting for NHS elective treatment, David Furness, Director of Policy at the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, said:
“Today’s figures show yet further decline in the NHS’ ability to meet its constitutional targets to treat patients in a timely manner, with a staggering 660k people waiting in excess of the 18 week target for elective treatment. This means more patients waiting in pain for vital treatment such as hip replacements and cataracts and represents ever worsening access to NHS care that the public have a legal right to expect under the NHS constitution. Indeed, analysis carried out by IHPN has found that almost one in six households has someone on an NHS waiting list.
“While we welcome the NHS Long Term Plan published earlier this year committed to increasing the amount of planned surgery delivered year on year, including through making use of independent sector capacity, today’s figures demonstrate that we urgently need NHS England to come up with a clear delivery plan to get waiting times down. This must include utilising the spare capacity available in the independent sector and communicating much more effectively the legal rights that patients have to choose the best provider for them.
“And as the NHS looks at the future of waiting times targets, we have consistently made clear it is imperative that any potential reforms to the 18 week target must be fully tested and driven solely by the needs of patients, not by diluting the target to make it easier to hit.”
– Of patients on the waiting list at the end of August 2019, 85% had been waiting less than 18 weeks, thus not meeting the 92% standard.
– The number of patients waiting over the 18 week referral to treatment target has increased by almost one quarter in the last 12 months from 530 000 in August 2018 to 662 000 in August 2019
– The Government’s target to ensure 92 per cent of patients wait no longer than 18 weeks from referral to treatment for elective procedures, such as hip and knee operations, has not been met since February 2016.