The latest waiting times data shows that in September 2017, the number of patients waiting longer than six months for surgery increased by 40% compared to the same time last year.
The data also showed that there has been more than a 5% increase in patients waiting more than 6 months for surgery compared to August 2017, increasing from 144,001 to 151,710.
The analysis also found that 59% more patients were waiting at least nine months for surgery compared to September last year. 21,033 patients were waiting at least 9 months during September, compared to 13,272 patients last September.
Professor Derek Alderson, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said:
“With 40% more patients waiting over 6 months for surgery than this time last year, it is clear that the NHS is under mounting pressure. Waiting several months for treatment could have a serious impact on a patient’s quality of life and the effectiveness of their eventual surgery.
“What is most concerning is this rise comes before pressures on the NHS are expected to increase this winter. With bed capacity expected to be at a premium due to continuing issues with social care, some patients needing non-urgent surgery this winter simply will not enter an operating theatre until the spring.
“With the 18 week waiting time target already deprioritised, and Simon Stevens saying that without an increase in funding, waiting time targets may have to be abolished, we are concerned that before long waiting 6 months for non-urgent surgery may begin to become the norm. Funding is simply not keeping up with patient demand, and although there is scope for the NHS to be more efficient, efficiency savings alone will not ensure patients are treated in the timely and safe manner that is expected of the NHS.”