Intended for healthcare professionals


Waiting list for hospital treatment tops “grim milestone” of five million

BMJ 2021; 373 doi: (Published 10 June 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1497


Healthcare systems need to be better at addressing waiting across the patient journey

  1. Matthew Limb
  1. London, UK

The number of people waiting for hospital treatment in England has topped five million for the first time, raising fresh alarm over impacts on patients.

Doctors’ and trusts’ leaders warned of unrelenting pressures on NHS staff and services while health officials said there were “encouraging” signs of a “rebound” in delivery of routine operations.

The latest monthly performance data on NHS referral to treatment show that the waiting list rose by 171 720 in April to 5 122 017.1 Some 385 490 patients were waiting over a year for treatment—50 000 fewer than in March. At the end of April 2021, 64.6% of patients waiting to start treatment were waiting up to 18 …

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