Please enter both an email address and a password.

Account login

Need to reset your password?  Enter the email address which you used to register on this site (or your membership/contact number) and we'll email you a link to reset it. You must complete the process within 2hrs of receiving the link.

We've sent you an email

An email has been sent to Simply follow the link provided in the email to reset your password. If you can't find the email please check your junk or spam folder and add to your address book.

NHS waiting list at record high of over 7.3 million

11 May 2023

Surgeons are calling on the government to “get on and publish” the highly anticipated NHS workforce plan. The Vice President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, Mr Tim Mitchell, has said making a proper dent in waiting lists will remain difficult without the plan. 


NHS performance data published today (11 May) shows the waiting list for NHS consultant-led hospital treatment has grown again to a record high of over 7.3 million. There were 7,331,974 people on the waiting list at the end of March 2023. 


The target to eliminate routine elective waits of over 78 weeks by April 2023 has also been missed. Despite the huge efforts of NHS staff to reduce these waits, the data shows 10,737 patients waiting more than 78 weeks in March 2023. This was down from a high of 124,911 in September 2021.


Patients waiting for operations such as hip and knee replacements and general surgeries such as gallbladder removals and hernia repairs are still waiting the longest. Today’s figures show, 804,180 patients waiting for Trauma & Orthopaedics, 589,372 waiting for Ear, Nose & Throat treatment, and 448,580 waiting for General Surgery.


Commenting on today’s figures, Mr Tim Mitchell, Vice President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said:


“It is disappointing that the target to eliminate 78 week waits hasn’t been met but it is not for want of trying. Staff have worked incredibly hard in some of the most difficult circumstances the NHS has ever faced to clear these waits. Record staff vacancies, high levels of Covid-19 and flu over the winter, and industrial action have all hampered recovery efforts. NHS teams will be doing all that they can to eradicate these waits as soon as possible.  


“With the overall waiting list at a record high of 7.3 million, workforce is the word on everyone’s lips at the moment. NHS staff are doing the very best they can to cut the waiting list but until there is a clear workforce plan in place to deal with the chronic staff vacancies that impede the day-to-day running of the NHS, the situation remains very difficult.


“The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has made cutting waiting times one of his five key pledges, but the much promised and anticipated workforce plan, which will set the course to putting a proper dent in waiting lists, has yet to materialise. It’s time for the government to get on and publish the plan.” 




Notes to editors:

  1. NHS performance statistics on referral to treatment waiting times published today are available here:
  2. We have taken into account estimates for missing data in March 2023 for consultant-led Referral to Treatment (RTT) waiting times.
  3.  The Royal College of Surgeons of England provides world-class education, assessment and development to 30,000 surgeons, dental professionals and members of the wider surgical and dental care teams, at all stages of their career. Our vision is to see excellent surgical care for everyone. We do this by setting professional standards, facilitating research and championing the best outcomes for patients.
  4. For more information, please contact the Press Office: Telephone: 020 7869 6053/6054/6047; Email:; Out-of-hours media enquiries: 0207 869 6056.

Share this page: