5 Things You Missed In Last Month's NHS Waiting List Stats
It’s not just house price bubbles bringing the mid-noughties vibe back to Westminster. NHS waiting times are big news again.
The health service broke one of its cancer targets recently, and journalists have been getting excited about the possibility that the number of people waiting for treatments on the NHS might break 3 million. But there are some bigger, stranger trends hidden in recent numbers. They haven't caught the press's attention yet, but might soon be coming to a front page near you.
So, to stay ahead of the game, here are 5 important things you might have missed.
1. Although it didn't hit 3 million the waiting list has still grown and is not following its usual trend.
2. The numbers have gone up but not enough to reduce the size of the waiting list.
3. The target for 90% of inpatients to receive treatment within 18 weeks was breached for the second month in a row.
4. The average (median) time people are waiting to start treatment is increasing for inpatients and outpatients.
While the length of time people wait has been increasing, it's not gone up by much. For example, the average waiting time for inpatients has gone up by about 5 days since 2008. However, extra people staying on the waiting list is a real problem. A growing list means the NHS will have to work twice as hard to reduce it; not only do they need to treat the people already on the list, more people needing treatment are joining all the time.
The fact that targets are only just being met or missed might not have attracted much attention but it could be an early warning sign. It's a situation that can easily escalate, especially given the growing pressures in the NHS. With the NHS set to be a key battleground in next year's election you're likely to hear a lot more about waiting lists over the next 11 months.
And now you're all caught up.