Seven million people in England are currently waiting for treatment on the NHS.
That's more than the entire populations of some countries, including Denmark and New Zealand.
Just under half of those referred to a specialist will have been in the queue for longer than 18 weeks — the maximum target set in 2004 by the Government. And more than 360,000 of them will have been waiting a year or more.
It's a deeply troubling state of affairs that has been thrown into sharp focus by the impact of the junior doctors' strike.
However, 'treatment delays existed long before the doctors' strike — and also the Covid-19 pandemic,' Danielle Jefferies, a senior analyst with independent think-tank The King's Fund, told Good Health.
Indeed, while the impact of the virus may have worsened the bottlenecks, the problem of rising patient demand is of longer standing. And the potential consequences are terrifying.
Studies show that for each month patients with breast, bowel or head and neck cancers have their treatment delayed, the chances of them dying from the disease increase by 6 to 13%.
Meanwhile, eye specialists fear some people may suffer permanent sight loss because they cannot get to a specialist in time to prevent the worsening of serious conditions such as glaucoma, which affects around 700,000 people in Britain.
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Source: MailOnline, 19 April 2023