Wigan's non-urgent hospital waiting lists are getting longer

More patients joined the waiting list for routine treatment at Wigan’s hospitals in September, figures show.

Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 4:55 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 10:28 am
Waits for routine treatments in Wigan are on the up

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 figures show 35,256 patients were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) at the end of September – up from 33,708 at the end of August.

This was also 28 per cent more than in September 2020, when there were 27,455 patients on the waiting list.

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WWL deputy chief executive Mary Fleming

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The median waiting time from referral to treatment was 13 weeks in September, compared to 13 weeks a year previously. Nationally, 5.8 million 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.

WWL deputy chief executive Mary Fleming said: “The safety of our patients is one of our top priorities and our staff continue to work extremely hard to ensure we can increase the number of patients we see and treat on a daily basis.

“It’s vitally important that we balance the pressures of urgent and elective care as we head into the winter months, which is why we are protecting COVID-19 secure sites such as Wrightington Hospital to make sure patients can continue to receive the treatment they need. Our staff continue to work extremely hard to ensure we can maintain the number of patients we can see and treat on a daily basis, and with that said, I would urge everyone to keep their appointments when offered or inform us in advance if they no longer need an appointment or wish to re-arrange.”

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

“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.”

The Health Foundation 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: “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.”

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

At WWL, 9,040 patients were waiting for one of 15 standard tests, such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy at this time.

Of them, 2,043 (23 per cent) had been waiting for at least six weeks.

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