The Patients Association | Published online: August 2016
This is our sixth annual report on hospital waiting times for elective surgical procedures in England. The Patients Association believes that all patients should be accessing their legal right to surgery within the 18 week (126 days) waiting time limit as set out in the NHS Constitution. Sadly, over the last five years for too many patients this has not been their experience. This year’s report based on 2015 data shows that on the whole, waiting times are getting worse, not better. This report also highlights regional variations in waiting times across England.
The key findings from the report are:
- The total number of patients waiting over 18 weeks for the calendar year of 2015 was 92,739, compared to 51,388 patients waiting over 18 weeks in 2014. Excluding the figures for bariatric and gender operations which we did not collect last year, this represents an increase of 79.5% in the number of patients waiting for over 18 weeks.
- Average waiting times for five procedures (hip replacement, knee replacement, hernia, adenoid and tonsillectomies) are above 100 days, which represents the highest average waiting time in the six years data has been collected by the Patients Association.
- Adenoid operations had the longest average waiting time at 110 days, with a rise of around 15 days from 2014 to 2015.
- Around 10% of Trusts do not have a process to recognise patients’ changing needs while on the waiting list. This represents a significant risk to patient safety and patient well-being.
- 77% of Trusts are failing to notify patients of their rights under the NHS Constitution when the 18 week limit has been missed.
- Trusts cancelled an average of 753 patient surgeries ‘on the day’ in 2015.
- Equipment shortages and/or lack of beds were the most common reasons for surgery cancelled on the day.
- Theatre improvements were the most commonly reported programme being used by Trusts to improve compliance to the 18 week waiting time.
- Two Trusts reported that they have implemented bans for out-of-area procedures. This is incompatible with patient choice rights from the NHS Constitution.
Read the full report here