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Matt Morgan: Head, shoulders, knees, and toes—what’s next on the NHS waiting list?

BMJ 2021; 372 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n554 (Published 02 March 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n554
  1. Matt Morgan, intensive care consultant
  1. University Hospital of Wales
  1. mmorgan{at}bmj.com
    Follow Matt on Twitter: @dr_mattmorgan

Even while ventilators continue to hiss and treat large numbers of inpatients with covid-19, attention has already turned to “what’s next.” The bulging NHS waiting list is an obvious place to start.

Over half a million patients in Wales are waiting for non-urgent treatment.1 The Reform think tank predicts that 10 million people could be waiting for surgery in England by April, a sixth of the population.2 The longest waits are for orthopaedic treatments that, unlike cancer, are considered non-urgent despite the pain and disability from untreated disease. Dealing with the inflated waiting lists has been described by the deputy chief medical officer for Wales as a “mammoth task.”1 But I hope that the idea of blindly throwing more of the same resources at the problem won’t survive (much …

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