Patients waiting more than 1,000 days for routine surgery

NHS Vehicles - Rasid Necati Aslim/Anadolu Agency

NHS Vehicles – Rasid Necati Aslim/Anadolu Agency

Patients have been waiting more than 1,000 days for routine surgery, new NHS figures reveal.

Figures obtained under freedom of information legislation show people have been on waiting lists for almost four years in some of England’s worst hit hospital funds.

At 15 hospitals, patients waited more than 1,000 days for elective surgery, including knee replacements, spinal surgery and neurosurgery.

Meanwhile, 31 hospitals waited more than two years for surgery, including gastric bypass, shoulder and hip replacements.

The figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats come as the NHS faces a severe winter crisis, with warnings this week that hospitals are running short of oxygen due to the number of patients being treated in corridors and ambulances.

A leading NHS oxygen supplier has issued a warning that five types of cylinders are currently rationed and only replaced on a ‘full for empty’ basis.

Two ambulance trusts warned of oxygen shortages, with the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust saying demand for portable oxygen was “higher than during the first wave of the pandemic”.

Some of the hospitals with the longest wait times are Plymouth University Hospitals. with a patient waiting more than 1,400 days while the number was more than 1,100 days at North Middlesex University Hospital.

At Nottingham University Hospitals, patients also waited more than 1,300 days for surgery, with 546 waiting more than 18 months.

Daisy Cooper, the Liberal Democrats’ health spokeswoman, said the delays to surgery were “outrageous”, adding: “Too many people across the country are waiting in pain for routine surgery. Often, these surgeries can make a huge difference in enabling someone to live comfortably or return to the workforce.

“Any delay is unacceptable – but there is a strict lottery of postcodes and patients in some areas are still on waiting lists for three years or more.

“People are fed up with Conservative ministers making excuses and blaming these outrageous delays.”

Latest NHS England figures show the number of people waiting to start routine hospital treatment at the end of August was seven million, up from 6.8 million in July. This is the highest number since registration began in August 2007.

In October, the number of people waiting more than six weeks for a key diagnostic test reached its highest level since the first wave of the Covid pandemic.

An NHS spokesperson said: “Despite continued pressure on services – which has been exacerbated by flu hospitalizations, problems in social care which mean we can’t discharge patients who are ready and record numbers in need of ambulance services – staff have pushed through to cut down some of our longest waiting times for care.

“The NHS is doing everything possible to further reduce long waiting times for patients, including offering people the chance to get treated faster elsewhere in the country if they prefer, along with dedicated surgical centers to increase the number of procedures carried out each day.”

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