Record 7 million people awaiting hospital treatment – Healthwatch’s response

The number of people waiting for an appointment with the NHS England (NHSE) has topped 7 million for the first time in August.

The latest data shows that the NHS is under increasing pressure even before winter begins, with the number of patients waiting more than a year for treatment growing to 387,257 by the end of August, up from 377,689 the month before.

Our National Director, Louise Ansari said on BBC News this morning that people are very worried about the massive NHS backlog, pointing out that there is another ‘hidden waiting list’ of those who have yet to be diagnosed.

Louise called for decision makers to focus on improving diagnosis on elective care and communications with those who wait for treatment:

“The scale of the care backlog is immense, and the NHS is really committed to bringing it down. There is some progress, for example the number of people waiting over two years is falling.

However, there is still a huge number of people who need support. And so decision makers must focus on improving diagnosis on both elective care and cancer and boosting support for people who wait. People need reassuring that the NHS is still there to help them, that they haven’t been forgotten and that the information and support they need are available while they wait.

This means better communication so they know how long they will have to wait, better support with pain management and a focus on prioritising those in greatest need.

Tackling the NHS backlog is a huge challenge, but decision makers must find a way to do so without exacerbating health inequalities, the extent of which has been laid bare by the pandemic.”

How is Camden performing?

A new postcode tracker from Sky News (which relies on NHS England data) looks at how many beds your local trust has spare, how long people have to wait at A&E, and how that compares to the national picture.