Increasing number of Wigan patients waiting for routine hospital treatment
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The figures come as a health think tank warns waiting lists will “continue to swell” under pressures on the NHS.
NHS England figures show 48,255 patients – around a seventh of the borough population – were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) at the end of February – up from 47,044 in January and 39,540 in February 2022.
Of those, 2,562 (five per cent) had been waiting for longer than a year.
The median waiting time from referral at an NHS trust to treatment at WWL was 15 weeks at the end of February – the same as in January.
Nationally, 7.2m people were waiting to start treatment at the end of February.
Saoirse Mallorie, senior analyst at the King’s Fund think tank, said: "In their elective recovery plan, ministers set the NHS an ambitious target to eradicate 18-month waits for planned hospital care by April 2023.
"Today’s figures show that huge strides have been made towards that goal, bringing down the number of 18-month waits from 69,300 to 29,800 in a year.
"However, patients are still facing unacceptably long waits and we can expect to see the overall waiting list, which currently stands at 7.2m people, continue to swell as the NHS grapples with sustained pressures," she added.
Separate figures show 1.6m patients in England were waiting for a key diagnostic test in February – the same as in January.
At WWL, 7,422 patients were waiting for one of nine standard tests, such as an MRI scan or non-obstetric ultrasound.
Of them, 641 (nine per cent) had been waiting for at least six weeks.
Other figures from NHS England show that of 62 patients urgently referred by the NHS who were treated at WWL in February, 49 were receiving cancer treatment within two months of their referral.
A month previously, 57 patients were referred and 42 were treated within 62 days.
In February 2022, 38 patients were treated within this period, out of 58 that were referred.
Mary Fleming, WWL’s deputy chief executive, said: “Over the last few months we have been making some really good progress in reducing the number of patients on our waiting lists as part of our elective recovery programme. Our colleagues have worked tirelessly to ensure our patients are cared for based on their clinical needs and we thank all of our colleagues for their efforts to reduce waiting times.
“We have recently seen some changes to the way we’ve been able to deliver our services as a result of industrial action and the need to protect our urgent and emergency care provisions, but we continue to work hard to ensure that these recent challenges have as minimal an impact as possible on our elective recovery programme.
“We understand that delays with appointments or surgery can be frustrating, and we are deeply grateful for the support, understanding and patience from those waiting to be treated.”