The latest NHS performance figures are in and they show that the number waiting to be treated at hospital has topped the 4 million mark.
Hospital chiefs are blaming the backlog on shortages across the board. Lack of money, staff and care beyond hospital has left the NHS reeling. Danny Mortimer, Deputy Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation has said: “The current system is unsustainable. We simply do not have the resources to deliver what the public now expects”.
It is worth pointing out that the 4m quoted is for patients waiting to undergo non-emergency procedures such as hip-replacements and cataract removals, although it is the highest number since August 2007 and second highest number recorded.
It was in 2007 that Gordon Brown’s Labour government first stipulated that hospitals should treat at least 92% of patients within 18 weeks in an effort to address the 4.1m waiting list at the time. After that the waiting list came down to 2.5m in 2009.
In March of this year NHS England Chief Executive, Simon Stevens, opted to deprioritise the 92% target to shift emphasis and focus onto the A&E and cancer care targets.
Phillips Hensch, Head of Analysis from NHS Providers, has said: “There is simply not enough capacity in the system to assure patient safety in the coming winter”. It is thought that an injection of at least £200m will be needed to help hospitals to close the gap and avoid another winter of chaos.
Meanwhile the Department of Health has refused to comment on the latest figures.