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Blog: XEC examines the latest NHS waiting list data as it reaches an all-time high

Analysis of monthly data (RTT data) released by NHS England has revealed that waiting lists for elective care have reached an all-time high, with over seven million patients waiting to receive treatment – the equivalent of one in eight people in England.

In February 2020, there were already 4.43 million people on waiting lists for elective care in England. The Covid-19 virus has had a hugely negative impact on hospital capacity for elective care treatment with a substitution effect between Covid-related activity and ordinary inpatient/outpatient elective care activity. In addition, the pandemic has triggered higher NHS staff absence rates, leaving the workforce stretched thin.

Fast forward to 2022, and the NHS heads into the winter period, facing the largest backlogs ever recorded.

What do the total waiting list trends show?

Following the release of the latest monthly data, it is clear that waiting times have grown at a steady average of 2% each month, resulting in the sum figure implying a yearly growth of 25% (compared to the latest reading, i.e. August 2022).

Graph showing total waiting list trend

Elsewhere, the NHS has made progress on some of its KPI targets, according to August RTT data. The graph below shows a continuation in the month-on-month decline of patients waiting over 18 months for treatment with the sum dropping to just below 51,000 compared to the 51,838 patients in July this year.

18 Months Trend

Graph showing 18 months waiters trend

But despite this positive news, the rate at which these figures are falling has slowed from the previous two months. The decline in August was noted at 1.8%, a drop from 9.7% from the monthly variation of June 2022.

So, while the number of new patients waiting over 18 months continues to fall, the slowing decrease could mean that numbers begin to rise again in the coming months.

12 Months Trend

Graph showing 12 months waiters trend

Figures for those waiting over 12 months for treatment have also risen, with the total sat at over 387,000 people, an increase of 2.5% over the previous month and over 375 times the amount of people pre-pandemic in July 2019. Unlike those on the over 18 months list, however, the growth rate for this backlog has decreased, with July’s monthly variation at 6.1%.

The trend the NHS is facing

From a bird’s eye view, the below table demonstrates the overarching trend the NHS is currently facing. It is clear that the majority of waiting lists have grown in comparison to July 2022 with a total 2.4% increase across the board. It also shows that the backlogs — which have decreased, have done so at a slower rate, like the aforementioned 18 months waiters list.

Graph showing variation in waiting time

How can Xyla Elective Care support?

As a specialist independent provider, Xyla Elective Care (XEC) supports the NHS in meeting elective care targets by providing referral management and clinical capacity solutions across primary and secondary care. Xyla Elective Care offers market-leading elective care in the community and in acute hospitals.

Currently, NHS professionals are stretched beyond capacity due to increased demand as well as staff vacancy rates sitting at over 46,000, driven by mental health issues exacerbated by the current cost-of-living crisis and aftermath of the pandemic. Through working with XEC, however, NHS organisations can benefit from a fully managed service and additional workforces that don’t impact on current staff.

Services like evening and weekend clinics can utilise existing NHS real estate at times when they’re not commonly used, freeing up NHS capacity while also providing patients with the flexibility to attend outpatient appointments outside of their working day.

XEC can also support those organisations without the physical means to facilitate this with alternative clinical space solutions to aid the mobilisation of further capacity for outpatient clinics.

This winter, take action to mitigate impact on your local elective recovery plan and put your trust in Xyla Elective Care.

Contact us for more information

Image of Steve Morley

Steve Morley, Business Development Director

steve.morley@xylaelectivecare.com,  07786 626 278

Image of Claire Fisher

Claire Fisher, Chief Nurse

claire.fisher@xylaelectivecare.com, 07766 545 789

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