A new report has revealed that patients nowadays are waiting a third longer for crucial operations than they were a year ago.
In fact, delays of more than four months for hip, knee and cataract surgeries are commonplace and campaigners have warned that current waiting times are worse than ever seen before.
To make matters worse, many of those who have to endure long delays are elderly patients. A reality that often sees their pain prolonged and their independence hindered unnecessarily.
According to figures obtained by the Patients Association, seven types of routine surgery have average wait times of longer than three months. The average wait for cataract surgery has risen to 93 days. This compares to just 69 days last year.
A Government ‘Wake Up Call’
Furthermore, the figures reveal a stark contrast across the country, with patients in certain areas having to wait more than four months for knee replacement surgery.
The charity say that the figures should serve as a “wake up call” for the government and health bosses alike.
They say that the figures show the NHS is struggling to provide adequate care for the UK’s rising and progressively ageing population.
The situation may not come as too much of a surprise to the government, whose own figures revealed that the 3.4 million patients on hospital waiting lists is the highest since the beginning of 2008.
The chief executive of the Patients Association, Katherine Murphy, said: “We have now come to the crunch. Waiting times are more than a statistic.
“Delayed and cancelled operations can seriously impact patients’ independence, mobility, ability to work and socialise, and prolong periods of pain or suffering that could be shortened by timely surgery. The challenges to the NHS must not excuse failings in the quality of treatment or patients’ experience of care.”
Time for Private Healthcare to Complement the NHS
Data published by the NHS last month also shows that more than 6,000 patients, including elderly individuals, who underwent surgery last year, had been waiting for 12 months or more.
Despite the government promising an extra £8 billion for the NHS by 2020, in addition to its £110 billion annual budget, experts say that waiting times may rise even further unless more money is made available.
However, it’s not all bad news. An NHS government spokesman said: “In fact, official figures show the number of people waiting more than a year has been slashed – from over 18,000 in May 2010 to just 634 five years on, and despite the NHS doing 1.3million more operations a year than when Labour were in power. What’s more, fewer people wait longer than the 18-week standard now than at any point before 2010.”
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that private healthcare can effectively complement the fantastic work the NHS does. While it continues to do a sterling job, its challenges should not impact on a patient’s experience of care. Premier Choice can help you get cover at a price that fits your budget.
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