Patients waiting more than 18 weeks for surgery set to double to 1 million

NHS Confederation | August 2018 |Patients waiting more than 18 weeks for surgery set to double to 1 million

Analysis of waiting times shows that the number of patients being treated within the 18 week timeframe has not been met for two years. Extrapolation of these figures indicates that by 2024 1 million patients will waiting over 18 weeks for surgery, finds NHS Partners Network, part of the NHS Confederation which represents independent healthcare providers. The figures show that without urgent action the total number of people on the waiting list for surgery will hit 5.6 million – up 25 per cent – by March 2024.


NHS Partners Network is calling for the NHS to ensure tackling waiting lists as a key priority of the forthcoming 10-year plan for the health service and with NHS hospitals operating at near to full capacity for the NHS make use of the significant spare capacity in the independent sector to speed up patients’ access to care (Source: NHS Confederation).

The full story is at NHS Confederation 

How is the NHS performing?

This report aims to take stock of what has happened within the NHS over the past quarter. 


The report finds that more patients are facing long waits for hospital treatment, with those experiencing the longest waits often most in need of treatment. With demand for services continuing to rise, the authors suggest it is very unlikely that meeting waiting time targets will become more achievable.

The report also finds that:

  • nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of finance directors felt that patient care has worsened in their local area in the past year. Just 4 per cent said it had improved
  • more than half (52 per cent) of trust finance directors said they expected their organisation to end 2017/18 in deficit. A third (32 per cent) were fairly or very concerned about meeting financial targets agreed with national NHS bodies
  • demand for services continues to soar – admissions from A&E jumped by 6.8 per cent in January 2018 compared to January 2017, reaching 389,649
  • more positively, progress on reducing delayed discharges from hospitals has continued to improve, with 145,3180 total days delayed in December 2017, the lowest total since September 2015.

Full report: How is the NHS performing? March 2018 quarterly monitoring report

See also:

Waiting times in A&E departments

Waiting times in accident and emergency (A&E) departments are a key measure of how the NHS is performing. In recent years, patients have been waiting longer in A&E; this article from the Kings Fund explores the reasons behind this.

The article reports that not only are more people are attending A&E departments each year, but A&E waiting times have also increased substantially over recent years. The NHS has not met the standard at national level in any year since 2013/14, and the standard has been missed in every month since July 2015.

At the same time, longstanding staffing issues and continued reductions in the number of hospital beds have made it more difficult for A&E departments to admit patients.

Full article: What’s going on with A&E waiting times?

Latest Quarterly Monitoring Report finds Patient care deteriorating

Half  of NHS trust finance directors think patient care in their area has got worse over the last year, while just six per cent said it has improved | The King’s Fund

Analysis for the Kings Fund latest Quarterly Monitoring Report suggests that the NHS is heading into winter on a knife edge with performance worse than at this time last year against a number of key indicators:

  • 89.7 per cent of A&E patients were seen within four hours in September compared to 90.6 per cent of patients in September last year.
  • 89.4 per cent of patients waiting for treatment in August had been waiting up to 18 weeks for treatment in August, compared to 90.9 per cent in August last year. This is missing the target of 92 per cent. There are now 4.1 million people waiting for treatment, the highest number since 2007.
  • Emergency admissions are three per cent higher in September compared to the same time last year.

The report also shows that NHS finances remain precarious.  Less than half of NHS trusts (45 per cent) expect to meet their financial targets this year, while commissioners are being forced to make tough decisions to reduce spending such as making people wait longer for planned treatment.

Trust finance directors also report widespread problems attracting nursing staff. The main reasons for this are the shortage in staff being trained; morale and work-life balance; and pay restraint.

Full report: The Kings Fund Quarterly Monitoring Report November 2017

Six-month-plus surgery waits triple in four years

The number of patients waiting longer than six months for surgical treatment in England has almost tripled in the past four years, according to the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS)


The RCS has today released a new analysis of waiting times data showing that, in March 2017, the number of patients waiting more than 26 weeks for treatment was 126,188, while in March 2013 (the year when six-month waiters were at their lowest level), 45,054 patients were waiting more than six months.

The data analysed shows that patients awaiting some types of surgery were experiencing particularly strong rises in waits for six or more months between March 2013 and March 2017. These included:

  • ear, nose and throat – a 256% rise
  • urology – 199% rise
  • general surgery – 146% rise
  • oral surgery – 146% rise
  • brain and spinal surgery – 145% rise

In addition, the analysis showed that the number of patients waiting more than nine months (39 weeks) for treatment rose by 209% during the same period. This was a rise from 6,415 patients in March 2013 to 19,838 patients in March 2017.

More via OnMedica

Full detail: Consultant-led Referral to Treatment Waiting Times


A guide to managing efficient elective care

Guidance for NHS staff involved the delivery of acute elective care who want to understand how best to manage and deliver referral to treatment (RTT) pathways and standards | NHS Improvement

Image source: NHS Improvement

Our guide covers those areas which support the operational delivery of an effective RTT pathway, including demand and capacity planning, elective access policies, performance management and reporting.

It gives advice on the management of the RTT pathway, derived from what we’ve learned from helping NHS organisations across the country to deliver and sustain short waiting times for treatment

Also included are:

Read the full overview here

The core guidance is available here

A&E under pressure

The number of patients waiting four or more hours at A&E has risen more than 300% at some hospitals |  BBC News


In total, 2.2 million patients were not seen within the target time in 2015-16 – more than double the one million figure in 2013-2014.

The Royal College for Emergency Medicine (RCEM) says there is a “large and systemic problem” caused by a lack of hospital beds.

NHS England said hospitals were under pressure but continuing to cope. Across England in 2015-2016, 85% of patients were seen within four hours.

Full story via BBC News