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NHS waits: More people feeling forced into private healthcare

"To be put in a position where you're basically begging off people, it's infuriating."

Last October, 12-year-old Hayden Kildea was diagnosed with severe scoliosis, a condition where the spine twists and curves to the side. Left untreated, it can become a dangerous and life-limiting condition.

The Kildeas, who live in Strabane, Northern Ireland, say they were told Hayden would need urgent surgery - but that because of the backlog caused by the pandemic, he would have to wait more than two years.

His mum Shauna found a clinic in Turkey that was able to carry out the operation immediately, but it would cost £50,000 - money the family didn't have. So in the summer, they turned to crowdfunding and campaigning to raise the money.

Millions of people across the UK are currently on NHS waiting lists - in Northern Ireland there are over 465,000 people, while in England, 5.6m are queuing for treatment.

Data shared with BBC Panorama shows that on average, waiting lists have grown by 50% in the most deprived parts of England since the start of the pandemic, compared with nearly 35% in the most affluent areas.

The research, conducted by the King's Fund, also shows that people on waiting lists in poorer areas are nearly twice as likely as those in wealthier areas to wait more than one year for treatment.

The Health and Social Care Board in Northern Ireland said patient demand continued "to exceed capacity across a range of specialties". It added: "As a result, even before the pandemic, the number of people waiting longer than the target waiting times was increasing."

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Source: BBC News, 27 September 2021


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