Number waiting to start NHS hospital treatment in England at highest level since records began

People take part in a protest outside Parliament, calling on the government to tackle NHS waiting lists. Credit: PA

The number of people waiting for routine NHS hospital treatment in England is at its highest level since records began.

Latest figures show there were 5.7 million patients still waiting to start treatment at the end of August.

Of those, 292,138 patients were left waiting more than 52 weeks (nearly a year).

Routine treatment is any regular and planned care provided by hospitals - rather than emergency cases.

Although the number of people waiting at least 52 weeks decreased from 293,102 in July, August's figures break a grim record set last month, when 5.6 million were waiting for treatment.

A closer look at waiting times at the end of August 2021:

  • 67.6% of patients waiting to start treatment were waiting up to 18 weeks - not meeting the 92% standard.

  • The number of Referral To Treatment (RTT) patients waiting to start treatment at the end was 5.7 million. Of those, 292,138 were waiting more than 52 weeks.

  • For patients waiting to start treatment, the median waiting time was 11.5 weeks.

  • During August 2021, 1,469,370 patients started a new RTT pathway. An RTT pathway is the length of time that a patient has waited from a doctor's referral to the start of their treatment, or if they have not yet started treatment, the length of time a patient has waited so far.

  • During the same month, 232,140 RTT patients started admitted treatment and 904,810 started non-admitted treatment.

  • People waiting for ear nose and throat (ENT) treatment were seen the least within the 18-week target, with only 57.9% starting treatment within this time period.