Once a month, NHS England waiting time performance data is published.
And once a month I look at it, assess it and write something about it.
The number of people who were waiting for treatment in May rose again, to 5.3 million. The number of patients waiting more than a year has dropped again slightly, to 336,733 but that’s only down around 50,000.
The difficulty I have is finding something to say that I haven’t already said or predicted. The numbers waiting are huge, they’re increasing not decreasing and they mark a real problem for the NHS in the coming years.
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Hospitals are doing all they can to get through this backlog, staff are working weekends and through the night.
Separate surgical hubs are being thrown up in parts of the country to help and everything is being done to ensure the flow of patients through the system.
But 5.3 million people is a lot of people and they are being added to the list all the time. That, along with the added pressures of Covid cases increasing, things are not looking good.
NHS leaders are warning today that any rise in Covid patients in hospital will affect the speed in getting through the backlog.
At the last glance, there are more than 2,500 people in hospital with Covid - that isn’t a small number.
Hospitals in all likelihood won't go through what they have in the last two waves but they will still be busy and summer is supposed to be their catch-up time.
Then… winter will hit.
The waiting list statistics today are not great. No one would say they are. They also number around 9% of the population - can you imagine that?