Waiting List Grew by 1 Million in a Year, Despite Elective Care Recovery Plan

Commenting on the one year anniversary of the publication of NHS England’s elective care recovery plan, senior policy fellow Tim Gardner said:

‘There were 7.2 million people waiting for routine hospital treatment at last count, up from 6 million a year ago. Behind these numbers are patients left in pain, and people enduring unnecessary suffering. The public and government must be under no illusion: there is still a significant mountain to climb before waiting lists are back to a more acceptable level.

‘Last month there were grounds for cautious optimism – for the first time in over 2 years, the waiting list fell rather than grew. NHS staff have worked incredibly hard to achieve this reduction in the wake of the pandemic, but we are still a long way from delivering the volume of care needed to see 18 week waiting times become a reality for most people. Over 400,000 people have waited over a year to start treatment, up from less than 2,000 before 2020.

‘The backlog in hospital care is the result of a mix of factors including a decade of underinvestment in the NHS and other public services, a failure to address chronic staff shortages and the longstanding neglect of adult social care – all of which predate the pandemic. If the government wants to see meaningful progress on reducing the waiting lists, these issues must be addressed.’