Is the NHS waiting list even bigger than what they tell us? The real toll could be 9.7 million – 3 million more than what official figures show

The NHS waiting list could be three million people longer than previously thought – with many waiting more than a year, an official report has found.

The Office for National Statistics said a survey of 90,000 adults in England found 21 percent were waiting for an NHS appointment, including an operation or scan.

This means that around 9.7 million people – more than one in five – are waiting if the results are extrapolated to the entire population.

However, separate figures published by NHS England show that there were 6.3 million people waiting for 7.6 million appointments at the end of January, with some people needing more than one type of care.

Part of the discrepancy may be because the NHS is not taking into account those waiting for follow-up consultations, with critics previously accusing health chiefs of keeping these people on a ‘hidden waiting list’, meaning they could be sidelined as a low priority.

The representative ONS survey also found that one in seven respondents waiting for an NHS appointment had been waiting for more than a year, while NHS England says only one in twenty on their lists have postponed that long.

According to ONS figures, this would suggest 1.35 million patients are waiting longer than 12 months – four times more than the 321,394 quoted by NHS England.

What do the latest NHS performance figures show?

The total waiting list shrank by 28,000 to 7.58 million in January.

There were 376 people wait more than two years to begin treatment in late January, up from 282 in December.

The number of people waiting over a year The number of people requiring hospital treatment was 321,394, slightly lower than the 337,450 in the previous month.

About 44,417 people had to wait more than 12 hours in emergency departments in England in February. The figure is lower than the 54,308 recorded in January.

A total of 139,458 people waited at least four hours of admission decision in February, up from 158,721 in January.

Only 70.9 percent of patients were seen within four hours at A&Es last month. NHS standards require 95 percent to be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

In February, the average Category one response time – calls from people with life-threatening illnesses or injuries – lasted 8 minutes and 25 seconds. The target time is seven minutes.

It took an average of 36 minutes and 20 seconds for ambulances to respond category two callssuch as burns, epilepsy and strokes. This is more than twice as long as the target of 18 minutes.

Response times for category three calls – such as late stages of labour, non-severe burns and diabetes – on average 2 hours, 4 minutes and 12 seconds. Nine out of ten ambulances should arrive to these calls within two hours.

In addition, the ONS suggests that 670,000 people have waited 18 months or more, compared to the 14,000 quoted by health officials.

NHS England promised to end waiting times of more than 18 months over a year ago.

Brett Hill, head of health and protection at independent consultancy Broadstone, said: ‘Of particular concern is the large gap between the NHS waiting list data and the findings of the ONS survey, which shows that the proportion of British adults now waiting for medical care. treatment or advice is much higher than previously thought.

‘With 21 per cent of adults in England waiting to access healthcare, this underlines the huge challenges for businesses when it comes to supporting the health of their employees and reducing absenteeism due to illness.’

Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s shadow health secretary, said: ‘Pull away coverage and the crisis in the NHS is even worse than it seemed.

‘One in five people in England are on waiting lists, and they are waiting longer than ever before.

‘Rishi Sunak has broken his promise to cut waiting lists, and now he plans to close services and cut doctors and nurses.

‘The longer the Conservatives remain in power, the longer patients will wait.’

The ONS also asked the public about access to GPs and satisfaction with their GP practices.

Nearly one in ten people said they couldn’t get in touch with their GP the last time they tried to make an appointment, while 7.4 per cent said they had to call back another day or call 111 because the practice couldn’t help .

Nearly a third of patients said they had found it ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to make an appointment, while just under half said it had been easy.

Dr. Margaret Ikpoh, Vice President of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘We know how much our patients value the care that GPs and our teams provide, and we share their frustrations as they struggle to access it when they need it. .’

An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘Officially published statistics on NHS waiting lists show that at the end of January there were 6.3 million patients on NHS waiting lists and only 4.2 per cent of waiting times were longer than a year lasted.

‘Efforts are underway to reduce the longest waiting times for patients, but despite pressure and industrial action, hardworking NHS staff have ensured the Covid backlog has fallen for four months in a row and 18-month waiting times have been cut by almost 90 per cent peak has fallen.

‘When it comes to GP care, almost two-thirds of people are satisfied with their experience, and millions more are getting an appointment compared to before the pandemic.’