The NHS ‘waiting lists have grown by an additional 174,000 people in just one month, with 5.74 million waiting for surgery in August and NHS chiefs warning the system is “hot.”
Accident and emergency rooms saw their busiest September since 2010, with 2.1 million people entering the hospital, 26 percent more than a year ago.
The NHS waiting time data does not include mental health, where an estimated 1.5 million people are also waiting for treatment, adding to a total of more than seven million people in England on some form of the NHS waiting list.
This is the highest number since records began in August 2007 and includes those waiting for hip and knee replacements and cataract surgeries.
A record 5,025 people had to wait for a bed in the emergency room for more than 12 hours after a decision was made to admit them. Hospitals across the country have reported incidents in the past few days where ambulance trusts have faced long delays in handing over patients. One in Shropshire waited 13 hours before even getting on A&E to be seen.
The latest data released by NHS England underscores the crisis the NHS faced over the summer when the military was called in to drive ambulances and a growing number of patients missing appointments due to insufficient doctors and increased demand General practitioners could get.
The number of patients waiting more than two years for routine operations in England has now reached 9,754 in August. The number of people waiting longer than a year has fallen for the fifth straight month as hospitals try to cope with the backlog. A total of 292,138 patients waited at least a year.
Ambulances responded to a record 76,000 life-threatening missions, an increase of more than 20,000 from the previous peak in September, while 999 operators received nearly a million calls in September.
NHS England has instructed hospitals to stabilize the number of patients waiting for hospital treatment, keep long-term waiters at current levels and eliminate the two-year waiting period until March next year.
Professor Stephen Powis, Medical Director of NHS England said: “There is no doubt that the NHS is running hot, with the highest number of patients ever seen in A&E in September, 14 times as many Covid patients hospitalized in the hospital Compared to the same month last year and a record 999 ambulance calls.
“But despite the busiest September on record, the NHS staff moved heaven and earth to make the most of the additional investment and conduct millions more tests, controls, treatments and surgeries.
“So it’s really important that people don’t hesitate to seek help from the NHS when they feel uncomfortable.”
The NHS is still providing less than 90 percent activity compared to pre-pandemic, but waiting times for diagnostic tests have decreased for the first time this year. This follows the introduction of new diagnostic community hubs to help tackle the backlog in testing.
In August there were 210,931 urgent cancer referrals from general practitioners in England, 24 percent more than 170,036 in August last year. In August 2019, a year without a pandemic, the corresponding value was 200,317.
Siva Anandaciva, chief analyst for think tank The King’s Fund, said the numbers showed the NHS is fighting “battles on multiple fronts.”
He added: “Waiting lists for planned hospital treatment continue to rise to levels not seen since the waiting time crisis in the 1990s.
“With the winter yet to come in full effect, we are already seeing record lows in A&E performance.
“After years of underinvestment, the cost of addressing the backlog of maintenance problems in NHS buildings and equipment now exceeds £ 9.2 billion, a significant portion of which requires urgent action to prevent harm to staff and patients.
“The government has announced significant additional funding to support NHS services, but has not yet kept its pledges to increase capital investments in buildings and equipment, or to provide the necessary funding to train and develop the workforce needed to address the chronic labor shortage is required.
“The spending review later this month is an opportunity to correct this or risk undermining efforts to reduce the backlog, modernize services and meet government manifesto commitments.”