At least 162,000 patients are waiting more than a year for routine NHS operations, the highest number for more than 12 years.
Latest statistics from NHS England show 162,888 people were waiting over 52 weeks for hospital treatment in October this year.
The total NHS waiting list for routine treatments at the end of October had reached 4.4 million with more than a third of patients waiting over 18 weeks – the NHS target for waiting times from referral to treatment.
Earlier this year health think tanks had predicted the waiting list could hit 10 million, but NHS England said this had not come to pass because of the work of hospitals and NHS staff to keel waiting lists lower than they were last year.
The median waiting time was just over 11 weeks, NHS England said
Some experts have warned of hidden demand for NHS surgeries with many patients yet to be referred to treatment because of the covid pandemic.
A spokesperson for NHS England, said: “Although Covid hospitalisations almost doubled during November, for every Covid inpatient the NHS treated, hospitals managed to treat five other inpatients for other health conditions. With cancer referrals and treatments now back above usual levels, our message remains that people should continue to come forward for care when they need it."
Source: The Independent, 10 December 2020