A new report from the Patients Association has found that waiting times for routine procedures, such as knee replacements and hernia repairs, have risen since 2010. The report is based on data from 92 hospital trusts in England and shows that treatment waiting times vary greatly depending on location. Concerns over a waiting time ‘postcode lottery’ have been mounting in recent months, forcing the government to give the NHS a £250m cash injection towards tackling the problem.
Current guidelines state that patients should be treated within 126 days of referral. However the report revealed that in some areas patients were waiting as long as 215 days. The Chief Executive of the Patients Association said that she believes these delays are forcing patients with reduced means to pay for private healthcare. Speaking about what she describes as ‘unacceptable’ waiting times, Katherine Murphy went on to say that the current financial squeeze should not come at the cost of patient care or cause patients to suffer. Unfortunately these new figures appear to show that more patients are having to endure pain and discomfort for longer periods because they can’t be treated as quickly they were just few years ago.
Patients in 2013 waited an average of 15 days longer to have their tonsils removed than patients having the same operation in 2010. Those having an adenoidectomy in 2013 waited 13 days more than they would have done in 2010 and those waiting for hernia repairs waited more than 10 days longer.
Also this week, claims made by the Prime Minister regarding a reduction in A&E waiting times have been questioned by the House of Commons library. The PM stated that the average waiting time in A&E had dropped from 77 minutes to less than 30 minutes under the coalition government. However, the PM was referring to waiting times for an initial assessment as opposed to waiting times for treatment, something which has remained at a fairly similar level to what it was under the labour government. In a blog post, House of Commons library said that Mr Cameron’s figures were based on a “simplistic reading of the data” that was not correct. The post was removed yesterday evening after questions were raised about its impartiality. With a general election fast approaching it would seem that questions and concerns regarding the NHS are as much about politics as they are about health care.