Covid’s ‘devastating impact’ on NHS services exposed by latest figures

Posted: December 14th 2020


This is a really sad story and has not been fully weighed in the balance in terms of our covid impact assessment.

Soaring numbers of patients are having to wait more than a year for surgery because Covid has disrupted hospital care so badly, new NHS performance statistics show.

The big rise in people facing delays of at least 52 weeks for an operation comes amid warnings that access to treatment will take years to get back to normal.

In October, 162,888 people in England had waited more than a year for a non-urgent planned procedure, even though the supposed maximum waiting time is 18 weeks. That was the largest number of patients forced to wait that long since October 2008.

The total was 123 times more than the 1,321 such cases there were in October 2019 and was 23,343 (16.7%) up on the 139,545 in that situation just a month earlier. Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, said the surge in year-long waits was “staggering”.

Dr David Wrigley, the British Medical Association’s deputy council chair, said: “It is quite frankly alarming that the number of patients waiting more than a year for care is now 123 times higher than last October. These are patients in pain, distress and needing treatment.”

Prof Neil Mortensen, president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said the people waiting for surgery would often be in pain and unable to get on with their normal life. “These waiting time figures drive home the devastating impact Covid has had on wider NHS services. Waiting lists for planned treatment were already heaving when the virus first struck. It has made the situation many times worse.”