It has been reported by BBC news that approximately 4.7million people were waiting for routine operations in England in February. 388,000 people were waiting more than a year for non-urgent surgery. This is a staggering amount when there were just 1,600 waiting more than a year for non-urgent surgery before the pandemic began.
In Wales, over 115,000 patients have been waiting more than a year for an operation. The number of patients waiting over 36 weeks was 200,000 higher than the same month in 2019.
Understandably, the pandemic has put a lot of pressure on the NHS. There was a need for all non-essential procedures to be cancelled to free up NHS resources to care for and treat coronavirus patients. This has led, in some instances, to unavoidable delays to operations. For patients waiting for those operations, it will be a frustrating and upsetting time with many experiencing ongoing pain and discomfort.
NHS England has created a £8.1billion plan to speed up the delivery of operations and non-urgent services in order to help recover services to patients. There is some evidence that those patients waiting for operations should have some confidence that the NHS will be able to get operation waiting times back under control, but it will take some time.
Following the first wave of the pandemic, the average waiting time for non-urgent surgery dropped by almost 40% when services resumed in the summer. The NHS is beginning to increase the number of non-urgent operations it does. More...