NHS backlog could take five years to clear
A “huge” NHS backlog caused by the pandemic could take five years to clear, NHS Providers has said.
Some 4.7 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of February – the highest figure since records began in August 2007.
The number waiting more than 52 weeks to start hospital treatment was 387,885 – the highest for any calendar month since December 2007.
In February last year, the number having to wait more than 52 weeks was 1,613.
NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said: “The scale of the backlog ahead is very worrying. Some chief executives are adamant we must avoid returning to the situation in the early 2000s, when the NHS had far too many people waiting for years, not months, on waiting lists.”
Mr Hopson added the issue is not just about elective and cancer backlogs in acute hospitals, but also patients and service users waiting for mental health and community services.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We are backing our NHS with an extra £7bn for health and care services this year, bringing our total additional COVID-19 investment to £92bn.
“This includes £1bn to support NHS recovery by tackling waiting lists and providing up to one million extra checks, scans and additional operations.”