Tens of thousands of patients waiting for treatment at Wigan's hospitals

Tens of thousands of patients were waiting for routine treatment at Wigan’s hospitals in April, figures show.
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A think tank has warned the Government is "moving in the opposite direction" from its goal of bringing waiting lists down.

NHS England figures show 50,574 patients were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) at the end of April – up from 49,784 in March, and 40,711 in April 2022.

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Tens of thousands of patients are waiting for treatmentTens of thousands of patients are waiting for treatment
Tens of thousands of patients are waiting for treatment
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Of those, 2,502 (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 April – the same as in March.

Nationally, 7.4 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of April.

Dr Sarah Scobie, acting director of research at the Nuffield Trust think tank, said: "Yet another month of hitting a record high for the NHS waiting list will be very worrying for the Government and shows it is moving in the opposite direction from its ambition to bring down waiting lists by 2025.

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She said the charity is concerned by the speed and scale at which the backlog is growing.

"The NHS and its staff are throwing more and more resources at recovering the backlog as the summer months approach, but challenges, including industrial action and staff absences, make keeping up with the weight of demand incredibly difficult," she added.

Separate figures show 1.6 million patients in England were waiting for a key diagnostic test in April – the same as in March.

At WWL, 8,743 patients were waiting for one of 12 standard tests, such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy at this time.

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Of them, 1,589 (18 per cent) had been waiting for at least six weeks.

Other figures from NHS England show that of 67 patients urgently referred by the NHS who were treated at WWL in April, 56 were receiving cancer treatment within two months of their referral.

A month previously – when 89 patients were referred – 70 were treated within 62 days.

In April 2022, 54 patients were treated within this period, out of 79 that were referred.

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Cancer Research UK’s director of evidence and implementation Naser Turabi said: "Today’s data shows that all cancer waiting time targets in England have been missed and are amongst the worst on record.

"Despite the tireless work of NHS staff, people affected by cancer continue to experience unacceptable delays for vital diagnosis and treatment.”

"We need to see urgent political leadership and action on cancer, and urge the UK Government to publish the long-awaited workforce plan for England," he added.

NHS England said staff are continuing to make progress on recovering routine services despite it facing "the most disruptive industrial action in its history in April", with four days of strikes by junior doctors resulting in more than 195,000 appointments and procedures having to be rescheduled.

Accident and emergency units across the country also experienced the busiest May on record, it said.