For the first time, England’s NHS waiting list has surpassed 5 million people.
According to recent estimates, the number of patients waiting to start NHS hospital treatment in England has surpassed five million for the first time.
NHS England data shows that at the end of April, 5.12 million people were on the waiting list, the highest amount since records began in August 2007.
The numbers, which were released on Thursday, also reveal that in April, 385,490 patients had waited more than a year to begin hospital treatment.
This is down from 436,127 the month before, but still more than 35 times the number of those waiting a year ago, in April 2020, which was 11,042.
Meanwhile, according to NHS England, A&E visits in England were 65 percent higher last month than a year before – however this is due to lower-than-usual statistics for May 2020, which were influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In May, a total of 2.08 million people attended, up from 1.26 million in May 2020.
In a non-pandemic year, the same total was 2.17 million in May 2019.
What we’re seeing in recent monthly data is the result of a lack of foresight in anticipating the unavoidable.
“The warning signs about where the NHS was heading were glaringly evident a number of years ago, and what we are seeing in recent monthly data is the result of a lack of readiness for the inevitable,” said Dr Nick Scriven, past president of the Society for Acute Medicine.
“We have huge problems with acute and emergency care under rising strain, with bed occupancy well over safe levels at more than 90% – yet significantly less impact from Covid at this point.
“We are in a catastrophic situation with record numbers of people waiting for treatment, but we must also recall that the four-hour emergency access objective has been missed for years with little to no change in strategy.”
According to the figures, the number of persons admitted for routine treatment in hospitals in England in April was 223,780, up from 41,121 a year earlier. (This is a brief piece.)