The Royal College of Surgeons has said the number of patient’s waiting six months or more for surgery has tripled over the past four years.
Whilst NHS England said it had cut the number of patients who had been waiting for more than a year for treatment, figures from March 2017 show 130,000 people had been waiting for operations, compared to a figure in March 2013 showing 45,000.
A spokeswoman for the NHS said, “the NHS has cut the number of patients waiting more than a year for treatment by nearly 13,000 over the past five years.”
Increasingly surgeons are saying they are concerned regarding the amount of time patients are waiting.
Earlier this year, NHS England boss Simon Stevens said “growing pressures in the health service can no longer guarantee treatment within the 18 week target time for knee and hip replacements.”
However, the majority of biggest increases in waiting times have been seen in dermatology, gynaecology and specialties dealing with the brain, spine, and ear, nose and throat.
NHS didn’t respond to the six month figures, but said, “while the Royal College of Surgeons understandably lobbies for more spending on surgeons, in the real world they aren’t the only call on constrained NHS funding, which also has to support extra investment in GP services, modern cancer treatments, and expanded mental health services.”
Clare Marx, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said, “We are now struggling to meet the standards and timeliness of care that the public rightly expect.”
“It is unacceptable for such a large number of patients to be waiting this long in pain and discomfort for treatment. This is the grim reality of the financial pressures facing the NHS.”
“In this election we urge all political parties to make timely access to surgery an urgent priority.”
A Conservative spokesman said the figures failed to recognise the hard work of NHS staff, and that “there were nearly 12 million NHS operations done last year, up by almost two million a year since 2010. At the same time we’ve dramatically cut the number of people waiting over 52 weeks for treatment.”
Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, said: “By properly funding the NHS we will restore the 18-week treatment target which the Tories have abandoned and we will bring a million people off the waiting list.”
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