Hospital waiting times at record high with 2.15m people waiting more than 18 weeks for treatments

Three times as many people are waiting for hospital treatments for more than 18 weeks. Credit: PA

The number of people having to wait more than 18 weeks to start hospital treatment in England rose to 2.15 million in July, more than three times higher than the same period last year (620,454).

It is the highest number for any calendar month since records began in August 2007.

The figures, from NHS England, also show that 83,203 people were waiting more than 52 weeks to start hospital treatment in July, the highest number for any month since November 2008.

Urgent cancer referrals made by GPs were down by 19% from 2221,805 last July to 179, 503 in the same month this year with breast cancer referrals down by 34%.

This is an improvement on earlier in the year where referrals dropped by 60% due to the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show.

Routine treatment admissions was down 51% with 142,818 patients admitted in July compared to 314,280 last year.

The year-on-year decrease recorded in June was 67%, and in May the drop was 82%.

Just under half a million patients had been waiting more than six weeks for a key diagnostic tests, including an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy.

Emergency admissions were also down, NHS England figures reveal. Credit: PA

Concerns have been raised that delays of routine tests and a drop in GP referrals during the pandemic may result in chronic illnesses being spotted too late.

A&E emergency admissions in England also fell by 10% in August 2020 compared to the same month last year which NHS England said was likely to be a consequence of the coronavirus outbreak.

And A&E attendances at hospitals in England continue to be below levels a year ago with 1.7 million recorded in August 2020, down 19% from 2.1 million attendances in the same month last year.

NHS England said the fall was “likely to be a result of the Covid-19 response” – suggesting that people are still staying away from A&E departments because of the coronavirus outbreak.