The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.

Our “waiting list guru” Rob Findlay has shed light on the fact that over a million patients waited longer than 18 weeks and 11,000 longer than a year.

April, the first full month of referral-to-treatment data since the start of the covid shutdown, confirms what the March data suggested: elective care has largely ceased in England.

If you saw the recent predictions of 10 million on the waiting list, says Rob, you may be surprised to know that the waiting list has actually shrunk – from a peak of 4.4 million, it has dropped below 4 million for the first time in over two years.

But he quickly adds that hospitals have been reduced to providing urgent-only services during the covid shutdown, and that capacity has been lost forever. Read his full analysis here.

Fewer hospital stops during covid

Ambulance staff are treating tens of thousands more people without taking them to hospital during the covid pandemic, HSJ has reported.

The share of incidents dealt with under what is known as “see and treat” by ambulance crews increased from 30 per cent in May last year to 36.4 per cent this year, according to NHS England figures.

Some in the NHS have long sought to reduce the share of patients being conveyed to hospital, in the belief more can be managed without the trip, writes our correspondent Alison Moore.

The trend started in March when the “see and treat” figure rose to 36.8 per cent from 30.4 per cent in February, before reaching 42 per cent in April at the height of the pandemic. 

One of the most dramatic increases was at East Midlands Ambulance Service Trust where see and treat cases increased from 25 per cent in May last year to 35.3 per cent this May.