England’s NHS waiting list tops 5 million for first time

Support us and go ad-free

The number of people in England waiting to start NHS hospital treatment has risen above five million for the first time, new figures show.

Data from NHS England shows that 5.12 million people were on the waiting list at the end of April – the highest number since records began in August 2007.

The figures, published on Thursday, also show that the number of people having waited more than a year to start hospital treatment stood at 385,490 in April.

This is down from 436,127 in the previous month, but around 35 times the number waiting a year earlier, in April 2020, which was 11,042.

Meanwhile, A&E attendances in England last month were 65% higher than a year ago, NHS England said – although this is a reflection of lower-than-usual numbers for May 2020, which were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

A total of 2.08 million attendances were recorded in May, up from 1.26 million in May 2020.

The equivalent figure for May 2019, a non-pandemic year, was 2.17 million.

Dr Nick Scriven, past president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said:

The warning signs about where the NHS was heading were glaringly visible a number of years ago and what we are seeing in recent monthly data is the result of a lack of preparedness for the inevitable.

With acute and emergency care under increasing strain and bed occupancy well over safe levels at more than 90% – yet far less impact from Covid at this point – we have major problems.

We are in a dire state when it comes to record numbers of people waiting for treatment, but we must also remember the four-hour emergency access target has not been met for years now with little to no change in approach.

The data also shows the number of people admitted for routine treatment in hospitals in England in April was 223,780 – more than five times the number a year earlier at 41,121, although again this reflects lower-than-usual figures for April 2020 during the first wave of the pandemic.

The equivalent figure for April 2019, a non-pandemic year, was 280,209.

Emergency admissions to A&E departments in England also showed a rise last month, up from 398,406 in May 2020 to 543,754.

The equivalent figure for May 2019, a non-pandemic year, was 547,382.

The NHS England figures also show that a total of 209,452 urgent cancer referrals were made by GPs in England in April, more than double the number in April 2020, which was 80,031.

The equivalent figure for April 2019 was 199,217.

Urgent referrals where breast cancer symptoms were present – though not initially suspected – were up from 3,866 in April to 14,259 in April 2021.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us