Around four and a half million people are now waiting to start hospital treatment in England, with the coronavirus pandemic having a “calamitous impact” on all other healthcare in England.
New figures published on Thursday showed that a record 4.46 million people were in the growing queue for NHS care at the end of November – the highest number since records began in August 2007 and a figure likely to be larger today due to the rapid recent increase of Covid admissions.
There were 12,000 fewer heart operations in England in the year to November compared to the previous year, according to the British Heart Foundation (BHF). In total, there were 96,000 fewer operations and other invasive heart procedures. Paradoxically, surgery and treatment waiting lists are shrinking at the same time as operation and procedure numbers are falling.
The BHF said that despite the NHS working all hours to prioritise the sickest patients, a lack of available non-Covid care means that almost 40,000 fewer people are being added to waiting lists and those who are on them are having to wait longer. The number of people waiting more than a year in England has soared to 2,800 – 100 times as many as there were in February 2020.