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NHS backlog soars to a record 7.68million


NHS waiting lists have soared to another record high, grim data has revealed.

Around 7.68million patients in England — or one in seven people — were in the queue in July for procedures such hip and knee replacements, official figures show.

This includes almost 390,000 patients who have waited at least one year for treatment, often in pain.

NHS bosses blamed medic strikes for heaping extra pressure onto already struggling hospitals — with 400,000 appointments rescheduled this summer due to walkouts.

NHS England monthly performance data released show that the waiting list grew by more than 100,000 between June and July.

The 7.68million toll marks the highest figures logged since NHS records began in August 2007 and a rise of nearly three quarters of a million (742,000) on July 2022.

Separate data for A&E shows that patient care plummeted in August as emergency departments faced their busiest summer yet.

Just under three-quarters of emergency department attendees (73 per cent) were seen within four hours in August, down from 74 per cent in July.

NHS standards set out 95 per cent should be admitted, transferred or discharged within the four-hour window.

Meanwhile, 28,859 patients who sought help in emergency departments were forced to wait more than 12 hours, up from 23,934 in July.

There were more than 6.5million attendances in A&Es across June, July and August — 20,000 more than the previous record in 2019.

Separate NHS data on ambulance figures for August however show response times improved — but patients were still left waiting too long.

Heart attack and stroke patients in England, known as category two callers, had to wait an average of 31 minutes and 30 seconds for paramedics to arrive, shaving 20 seconds off the previous month.

However, this is still nearly double the NHS 18-minute target.

Ambulances took an average of eight minutes and 17 seconds to attend the most life-threatening category one calls, such as cardiac arrests. The NHS target stands at seven minutes.

Separate data shows 2.2million tests and checks were delivered in August, contributing to the busiest summer ever for diagnostics — a total 6.6million across June, July and August.

However, NHS figures on cancer waiting times showed that just six in ten cancer patients (62.6 per cent) were seen within the two-month target in July.

NHS guidelines state 85 per cent of cancer patients should be seen within this time-frame. However, this target has not been met nationally since December 2015.

Meanwhile, almost a quarter (74.1 per cent) of patients urgently referred for suspected cancer were diagnosed or had cancer ruled out within 28 days, up from 73.5 per cent the previous month. The target is 75 per cent.

The proportion of cancer patients who saw a specialist within two weeks of being referred urgently by their GP fell from 80.5 per cent in June to 77.5 per cent in July, missing the 93 per cent target.

The figure is one of several cancer targets that are being discontinued from October, after the NHS vowed last month to diagnose and treat cancer patients quicker.

It comes as data published this month also showed the number of Brits paying for private medical treatment has now hit a record high.

Around 227,000 people in the UK sought private treatment in the first three months of 2023.