NHS waiting list for ops hits record high with 4.46million people now in need of hospital treatment

    NHS waiting list for routine ops hits record high with 4.46million people now in need of hospital treatment, ‘calamitous’ figures reveal

    • Total of 4.46million patients were waiting for hospital care in November 2020
    • This is the highest figures have ever been and is above last year’s numbers
    • A record 192,169 patients have also been waiting more than a year for care

    The NHS waiting list for routine operations has hit a record high amid rising admissions of coronavirus patients, ‘calamitous’ figures reveal.

    A total of 4.46 million people were waiting to start hospital treatment in England at the end of November 2020, the highest number since records began.

    This compares to 4.42 million in November 2019 and 4.45 million in October that year – the previous highest number in the data which goes back to August 2007.

    The NHS England figures also show that the number of people having to wait more than 52 weeks to start hospital treatment in England stood at 192,169 in November 2020 – the highest number for any calendar month since May 2008.

    In November 2019 the number having to wait more than 52 weeks to start treatment stood at just 1,398.

    Professor Neil Mortensen, president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said: ‘Today’s figures show the calamitous impact of Covid-19 on wait times for operations.

    ‘In November, a record number of patients were waiting for hospital treatment.

    ‘For thousands of people in this country a corrective operation is the best way to relieve debilitating pain and get them back up on their feet, back to work and enjoying life again.

    ‘Many of us were complaining about the pain of the lockdown restrictions in November. However, we should remember all those people waiting for an operation who had their physical pain to deal with, on top of the pain of lockdown.

    ‘A huge, hidden waiting list is building up under lockdown.

    ‘When we eventually emerge from this crisis, we will need sustained investment to treat all those who have been waiting patiently for treatment.’


    The University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) have temporarily suspended kidney transplants due to the critical Covid-19 situation in the city.

    In a tweet, UHB’s renal transplantation team said: ‘Due to the critical situation with Covid-19 in our area, we are temporarily suspending our waiting list patients for 14 days and pausing kidney transplantation in Birmingham.

    ‘We will keep this under regular review and update when we have more information. #StayAtHome #StaySafe’


    The total number of people admitted for routine treatment in hospitals in England was down 27 per cent in November compared with a year ago.

    Some 222,810 patients were admitted for treatment during the month, down from 303,193 in November 2019.

    The year-on-year decrease recorded in September and October was also 27 per cent, while in August the drop was 43 per cent. 

    Emergency admissions to A&E departments at hospitals in England also showed a fall last month, down 18 per cent from 560,795 in December 2019 to 460,260 in December 2020.

    NHS England again said this is likely to be a consequence of the coronavirus outbreak.

    A&E attendances at hospitals in England continue to be below levels of a year ago, according to the latest figures from NHS England.

    A total of 1.5 million attendances were recorded in December 2020, down 32 per cent from 2.2 million in December 2019.

    NHS England said the fall is ‘likely to be a result of the Covid-19 response’ – suggesting that people are still staying away from A&E because of the pandemic.

    The year-on-year drop in A&E attendances of 32 per cent in December compares with falls of 31 per cent in November, 26 per cent in October, 20 per cent in September and 19 per cent in August.

    A further 9,267 patients waited between 30 and 60 minutes to be handed over from ambulance teams to A&E staff, NHS England figures also show.

    This is again the highest weekly figure so far this winter.

    Overall, it means nearly 15,000 patients waited at least half an hour to be transferred from ambulance teams to A&E staff in England in the week to January 10.

    University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust had the highest number (780 delays of at least 30 minutes), followed by London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust (372) and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (360).

    Around one in five major hospital trusts in England had no spare adult critical care beds on January 10, NHS England figures show.

    Some 27 out of 140 acute trusts reported 100 per cent occupancy of all ‘open’ beds on January 10 – the latest date for which statistics are available.

    These included University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which had all 147 beds filled; Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (all 75 beds); Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust (all 66 beds) and Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Trust in London (all 51 beds).


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