The number of people waiting for a hospital operation in England is at its highest since 2008.
Figures have shown how more than 4.2 million people are waiting to be seen. They also revealed how a rising number of patients were waiting over 18 weeks for treatment.
The majority of these patients were waiting for knee and hip replacements.
The number of patients waiting longer than they should has risen over 500,000. This is the highest number on records since 2008, when figures reached 520,000.
April’s figures revealed that only 87.5% of patients were seen within 18 weeks. The Government target figure is 92%, though this has not been met since February 2016.
Figures have risen by thirty percent since the same time last year, when 383,000 patients were waiting for treatment.
The latest April figures also show the number of patients waiting more than a year has increased 83.8 per cent since the same period last year, from 1,568 to 2,882. This represents a 637 per cent increase from the same period in 2013.
This comes after the NHS was forced to postpone thousands of operations in the winter after an A&E crisis.
The Vice President of the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) said “If patients have to wait excessively long for surgery there is a risk their condition will deteriorate and the treatment will be less effective. It is also very distressing – and debilitating for someone who is living with a painful condition – to have to wait a long time for treatment.”
“We’re now in June and yet it remains unclear how the NHS plans to catch up with the planned surgery backlog caused by the winter pressures.”
The RCS also said the figures were ‘disappointing’, and it was ‘unclear’ how the NHS will catch up with the backlog from the busy winter.
Jane Davies, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing said that “the number [of patients] waiting more than year [for treatment] is now approaching 3,000”.
She said “Half a million people have waited more than 18 weeks for planned care, the highest figure in ten years. And the number waiting more than a year is approaching 3,000. That is truly shameful. For these people, the Prime Minister’s promise of more NHS funding cannot come soon enough.
“But more funding is only half the battle. Addressing the 40,000 nurse vacancies in England alone is not just a question of money, but requires long term workforce planning and a determined focus on improving recruitment and retention.”