• Number of elective patients waiting more than 52 weeks leaps by 75 per cent year-on-year
  • Increases of 20 per cent in each of the last two months
  • Data also shows significant year-on-year decline against the overall waiting times target

The number of patients waiting a year or more for elective treatment has risen by 75 per cent year-on-year, NHS Improvement data confirms.

In March this year there were 2,647 patients who had waited more than 52 weeks for treatment, up from 1,513 in March 2017.

The data was released as part of NHS Improvement’s quarter four summary, which collates data across the 2017-18 financial year. It showed an overall performance on the 18-week waiting time standard of 86.8 per cent, against a target of 92 per cent. This was a fall of 3.2 percentage points on the previous year.

The position has significantly deteriorated in this calendar year, HSJ analysis reveals, with the number of year-plus waiters in March representing a 22 per cent rise on the total in February. The February figure was itself a 20 per cent increase on the total for January.

NHS England has committed the service to doing no worse on the elective waiting time measures in March 2019 than it did in March 2018.

The total national elective waiting list also reached 4.1m, higher than at any point since August 2007.

The report said: ”Sustained high demand for emergency inpatient care this year has resulted in many providers struggling to deliver their planned activity due to elective capacity either being displaced or cancelled. The cyber attack also had an impact, further reducing the elective activity completed.”

The five trusts with the most year-plus waiters were: Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals Foundation Trust, Imperial College Healthcare Trust, King’s College Hospital FT, Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust and East Kent Hospitals University FT.

East Kent, Northern Lincolnshire and King’s all saw increases in year-plus waiters of between one third and one quarter from February to March this year.