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The NHS hidden waiting lists terrifying patients

Patients are facing delays stuck on hidden waiting lists that do not show up in the official figures in England, a BBC News investigation reveals.

The published waiting list stands at 7.6 million - but the true scale of the backlog is thought to be much higher.

This is because patients needing ongoing care are not automatically included in those figures - even if they face major delays.

NHS England said hospitals should be monitoring and counting such cases.

But BBC News found evidence suggesting this is not always the case.

The problem affects patients receiving ongoing care, as well as those removed from waiting lists even before starting treatment.

BBC News has spoken to patients waiting months and even years for vital treatment, such as cancer care, spinal treatment and others at risk of going blind because of deteriorating eyesight.

Hospitals are meant to return patients facing unnecessary delays to the waiting list to ensure they are counted in the backlog figures.

But of 30 NHS trusts asked by BBC News how regularly this was happening, only three could provide figures.

Karen Hyde, from Insource, a company that helps hospitals manage waiting lists, said the guidance was "commonly ignored".

"This is a huge issue. The NHS does not incentivise hospitals to keep a close eye on these patients.

"We know there are long waits for those on the waiting list. For those not on the official waiting list, it is likely to be even worse - but the figures are not published."

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Source: BBC News, 19 February 2024


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