No end in sight to mammoth waiting lists for routine NHS treatment at Northampton General Hospital

Numbers dropped a fraction in September but are still UP compared to 12 months ago
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Tens of thousands of patients were waiting for routine treatment at Northampton General Hospital Trust in September, figures show.

But those who are being seen, are being seen quicker than they were a year ago.

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The King's Fund health think tank warned the NHS is "on its knees" as the number of people waiting to start treatment across England reached another record high.

NHS England data show 23,397 patients were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust at the end of September.

This was down from 23,764 at the end of August — but seven per cent MORE than 12 months previously when there were 21,868 patients on the list.

Average waiting times from referral to treatment was nine weeks in September compared to 11 weeks a year previously.

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Deborah Ward, senior analyst at the King’s Fund, said: “Today’s stats nationally reveal the worst performance since current records began for ambulance calls, A&Es and waits for planned hospital care.

Waiting lists have got longer at NGH during the last 12 monthsWaiting lists have got longer at NGH during the last 12 months
Waiting lists have got longer at NGH during the last 12 months

“In a normal year any one of these would ring alarm bells.

"Taken together before winter has even begun, they suggest a health and care system running hot for such a sustained period whilst still dealing with Covid-19, it is now on its knees.”

Nationally, 5.8million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of September — the highest number since records began in August 2007, and the 12th successive record high.

Of them, 12,491 had been waiting longer than two years — more than four times the 2,722 patients waiting this long in April.

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The Health Foundation, an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK, said patient care was being impacted by delays to cancer treatment, record waits for ambulances and A&E, and an overstretched workforce.

Tim Gardner, senior fellow at the Health Foundation, added: “With waiting lists at an all-time high, millions of patients and staff are feeling the impact of a health system struggling to cope with demand.

“The Government has said that the NHS is under ‘sustainable pressure’, but it would be extraordinary to look at what’s happening in the NHS right now and claim that it is sustainable.

“That we are facing pressures this significant before we have reached the peak of winter is concerning, particularly as cases of seasonal viruses and rising staff absences are likely to add further pressure.”

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Separate figures show 1.4million patients in England waiting for a key diagnostic test in September, the highest number since records began in January 2006.

At Northampton General Hospital Trust, 7,162 patients were waiting for one of 15 standard tests such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy at this time.

Of those, 1,214 had been waiting for at least six weeks.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England national medical director said: "Despite high demand, NHS staff are going above and beyond to see more patients and deliver millions more tests, checks, treatments and operations.

“Increasing numbers are coming forward for treatment and this is expected to go up, but it remains really important people do not delay seeking help from the NHS if they feel unwell.”