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Record waits for endoscopy as referrals soar


The waiting list for endoscopies has broken the record set during the height of the covid pandemic, as referrals for suspected colorectal cancer surged, HSJ analysis shows.

In November 2022, 110,00 people were waiting for a colonoscopy (or flexible sigmoidoscopy) and the median wait was 4.2 weeks, double the median wait in November 2019. The pandemic peak waiting list for these tests was 107,000 in September 2020.

Nearly a quarter of those waiting as of November 2022, the most recent figures, were on the list for more than 13 weeks. In November 2019 only 2.9 per cent of the list waited this long.

Health policy manager Matt Sample said: “As with all diagnostic services, endoscopies were hit hard by the pandemic, but the service was under considerable strain even before this as staff numbers and equipment simply weren’t rising to match demand.

“The latest data shows that more than two in 10 people who started treatment for bowel cancer in England waited more than 104 days since their urgent referral – this is unacceptable.

“Without continued efforts to expand diagnostic capacity, and in particular investment in addressing chronic workforce shortages, people affected by cancer will not receive the care they deserve.”

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 24 January 2023

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