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More than 160,000 waiting more than a year for hospital treatment

10 Dec 2020

Today’s waiting time statistics show there were more than 160,000 patients waiting more than a year for planned hospital treatment in October 2020 – the highest number since May 2008. 

The total waiting list now stands at 4.45 million. 

Performance against the statutory 18 week target improved in October, rising to 65.5%, compared to September’s 60.6%.  This improvement reflects the huge efforts of NHS staff to restore hospital services over the summer, following the first wave of COVID in the spring.

Commenting on today’s waiting time figures, Professor Neil Mortensen, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England said, 

“Yet again, these waiting time figures drive home the devastating impact COVID has had on wider NHS services. Waiting lists for planned treatment were already heaving when the virus first struck. It has made the situation many times worse.

“Though we were able to recover some ground over the summer, October’s figures show that as the second wave of the pandemic began to build, so too did the pressures on planned surgery. Tragically, there are now tens of thousands of patients waiting for surgery, many in pain and unable to get on with day-to-day life.

“The roll-out of a vaccine this week offers the promise of better times ahead, but it will still be many months before all staff and patients are vaccinated.  In the meantime, the NHS faces an incredibly challenging winter. To right the ship after the devastation of the pandemic, the NHS needs a New Deal from government, with extra investment in hospital beds and staff.”



Notes to editors

1. RTT statistics for October were published at 09.30am this morning here: . These show 162,888 people were waiting over 52 weeks for hospital treatment in October 2020

2. The Royal College of Surgeons of England is a professional membership organisation and registered charity, which exists to advance surgical standards and improve patient care.

3. For more information, please contact the Press Office: Tel. 0207 869 6047/6052; email: For out-of-hours media enquiries, please telephone: 0207 869 6056.




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